Barry Rubin on having inoperable lung cancer

Middle East expert Barry Rubin, a frequent source for journalists trying to sort through the muddle of this or that development in the Arab world, writes on his blog about dealing with the news that he has inoperable lung cancer.

Nothing is stranger than having a normal life and then within a few hours knowing that it might end at almost any moment. That’s what happened to me when I was just diagnosed with what is called inoperable lung cancer…

People always asked me why I wrote so much and so intensively. I never told them one of the real reasons: I always expected my life would be limited. My grandfathers died, respectively, at 42 and 44, both of things that could have been cured today. My father died of a heart attack at 62, and his life probably could have been extended many years today by all the new tests and drugs available. But I felt that once I passed that birthday, less than a year ago, I might be living on borrowed time.

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There are some constructs I’ve come up with that I find comforting. Briefly:

Every living thing that has ever existed has died, at least in terms of being on this earth. If they could do it I can do it. I feel like I have been captured by an enemy force (you all can insert specific names) and they want to execute me. I hope to escape or to be rescued by my friends.

Even if I didn’t have this disease, I could leave life on any day due to many causes without warning.

For 2000 years my ancestors dreamed of returning to their homeland and reestablishing their sovereignty. I have had the privilege of living that dream. How amazing is that?

We have to judge ourselves by whether we’ve lived up to our ideals and done our best. Not by the accumulation of power, wealth or fame; not for failing to achieve the impossible.

For more, read Rubin’s blog.

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