A week or so after I wrote my post about pessimism Joel Salatin wrote a blog post that had a similar theme. Salatin shared the unfortunate story of his father's early death. Salatin's father was diagnosed with cancer in his 60s and died a few years later, Salatin made it seem almost as if his father was a different man after this diagnosis, and while in many ways he wasn't many people treated him as if he was. To many people a diagnosis like that is synonymous to a death sentence and they change the way in which they view the person with the diagnosis. Joel Salatin wrote, "Every good time had a bit of tension and dread buried behind the laughter and smiles. Life was fraught with an underlying wondering: 'how long will he survive?'"
Death is of course a reality that we all must face we cannot avoid it, but with that being said we should not give ourselves or others countdowns towards it. Consider the actor Chadwick Boseman, in 2016 he was diagnosed with colon cancer but he only told his close friends and family about the diagnosis, so when the cancer finally took him in 2020, when he was only 43, the world was shocked. Boseman did many great things in his last four years of life, he appeared in great movies, gained fans, raised money for cancer research, and even won a few awards. Because his cancer diagnosis was kept private Chadwick Boseman was given many great opportunities which he took advantage of, I am nearly positive that he would have gotten none of those opportunities had people seen him as someone marked for death rather than an ordinary man.
Going back to Joel Salatin, I find a choice he made as a result of reflecting on his father's last years of life quite interesting and something worth thinking about. With the exception of the occasional need for stitches and dental work, Joel Salatin has not visited a doctor since his father's diagnosis. Salatin does not want to be marked for death like his father was, nor does he want the burden of having to hide it like Boseman did.
Of course Salatin lives an incredibly healthy lifestyle filled with a good diet and plenty of exercise and void of processed food and laziness, frankly there is really no reason for Salatin to go to the doctor. The same cannot be said for most of us, it is disgusting that we call things like soda, margarine, fake meat, and high-fructose corn syrup food, the word garbage is a better word for these things. If we don't eat garbage we shouldn't have to go to the doctor because we'll be eating the food that our bodies were designed to eat.
In this article Salatin points out that, "'I'm sick and I can't help it' is more common than 'I'm sick and it's my fault so let's make the changes necessary for me to get well.'" I know several people who claim to be concerned about their future health because some bad disease runs in their family but they'll go ahead and drink 32 ounces of soda every day anyways then be surprised when a doctor tells them they have cancer or heart disease or diabetes or something like that. Yes, I know that genetics often plays a role in these sorts of diseases so it is possible for them to run in the family independent of diet but I'd be willing to bet that poor health decisions are really what runs in the family. Unfortunately the food and drug industries seem to be spending more time enabling poor health decisions than they are discouraging them. The burden falls on us to make sure our friends and family are making good decisions when it comes to their health.
Nobody likes going to the doctor, and nobody likes being the recipient of a death sentence from a doctor. All of us should already know what we need to do do avoid these things, the hard part is actually doing it. And of course if you've already received a death sentence, don't act like it, don't be a pessimist, don't let people treat you differently, and don't give up on trying to be healthier, there are plenty of people who have lived much longer than any doctor thinks they should have.