The Flinchum File
Thoughtful Economic Analysis and Existential Opinions

A Disturbing Lecture


I attended a disturbing lecture on Saturday.  About 30 minutes into the lecture, the speaker stopped abruptly, producing an awkward silence.  His facial expression became trance-like.  Finally, he said “I’ve been diagnosed with stage 4 cancer.”  There was an audible gasp among the hundred or so attendees.  He went on to say that, while he recently learned the cancer is in-remission, his doctor also told him the cancer will certainly return.  He has to be tested every three months.  His lease on life is quarterly.  The dread leading up to the test had been producing a euphoria after he got a good result.  But he is tired of the uncertainty, and the euphoria is decreasing each time.  Claiming he has never been a patient person, he is becoming inpatient to get the inevitable over with.  Then, there was another awkward silence.  The expression on his face returned to normal, when he said “Anyway” and continued with his lecture.  I don’t think I heard another word he said.  I was too rattled by what I just heard.

My guess is that his own mortality was more important than his lecture, which is certainly understandable.  That thought of his own death swept through his mind, shutting down any other thought.  Maybe, he just wanted to share his emotional pain or to connect with other people, but I don’t think so.

I think he is contemplating suicide and consumed by that process.  I don’t blame him.  He cannot save himself.  We cannot save him from his fate.  What is there left to do but “get it over with?”  Besides, how many times can you say good-bye to loved ones?

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