I was in NoCal over the weekend and on Monday for a new business pitch. As new business pitches go, I spent a lot of time with the team––Jeff, Jennifer, Rachel and Emily––getting good and ready for the presentation. Which means a lot of time in front of a computer, staring at power point (my God, when we will ever get rid of power point) decks and discussing the topics of the day. Which meant seeing a TON of coverage regarding the Swine Flu. The Swine Flu––now there's a catchy name––received so much coverage it was almost as exhausting as the NFL Draft on ESPN. I'm always amazed at the way the press handles statistics in regards to human life. Over 2,000 infected in Mexico. Fourteen cases in California. One death in the United States. These are not just numbers––these are people, plus the people who are now scared to death they will catch the Swine Flu from the infected.
After zig-zagging our way through the airport on our way back east, our pitch team sat down for some food. Along the way, we saw people with surgical masks. People watching the news at the bars. Newspapers with Swine Flu headlines in the hands of passengers. Even as we sat and ate our food, the TV was swine fluing the news. We were surrounded. So I did the only thing I could do––I people watched. I watched the looks of fright, uncertainty and nervousness on their faces. Those that had the masks, they were being stared at with amazement and recognition that this was serious. I decided to bring some levity to the situation to our tired and road-weary group.
"I can't help but sit here and think that after all I've been through the last 2 years, wouldn't it be a bitch if I caught the Swine Flu and THAT'S what killed me?" I started to chuckle, so the group wouldn't feel uncomfortable and say, "through all the radiation, the chemo and the medications and side effects, a pig does me in." They laughed. I laughed. And while it's no laughing matter, it did put things into perspective for me. I'm still prone to infection, no matter how much crap they put into my body in order to fight cancer. I could catch the Swine Flu on my flight––that's recycled air we breath up there, right?––or even worse, pass it on to my family back home.
Fighting and surviving cancer has taught me many things. But one of the most important things is knowing what I can and can't control. I can control my hygiene habits. I can't control others and make them wash their hands or sneeze into their sleeves. I can get rest, eat well and be happy every day. I can't fight what I can't see. I also learned that time is the most precious thing we have. Never take it for granted. Spend time wisely.
That's what keeps ME from freaking out. No matter what the news.