D uring the three years my dad lived with incurable cancer, I tried not to be afraid. But, at the same time, I couldn't let myself drift into denial. I was the one whose job it was to find clinical trials, look for new treatments, talk to doctors -- anything to try to keep him alive. I spent hours and hours on the computer, trying to find something that would give my family hope. It was hard to keep trying. Because I knew, I had known from the beginning that he wasn't going to make it, no matter what I did. Just three weeks after he was diagnosed, I found a retrospective study that showed that no one, not one person in all the case records they had found, had survived this cancer more than five years.
Sometimes, I would find myself drifting into denial. Hey, let's not think about it. Forget the cancer newsgroups tonight. Don't bother with checking clinicaltrials.gov. But then there would be that tight lump of fear in my chest.
My dad's been gone for a long while now. When my dad died, I was very sad, but I was also relieved. He wasn't suffering any longer. And I no longer had that lump of fear
But now the fear is back. James Lovelock, creator of the Gaia hypothesis, says there will be less than a billion people on Earth in 90 year's time. Wildlife and whole ecosystems will vanish... Polar ice is melting faster than scientists had anticipated. Polar bears are drowning. The glaciers on Mt. Kilimanjaro are disappearing. That will mean drought and death for the elephant orphans I love so much in Tsavo National Park.
It's like having cancer. I'm afraid the years ahead will be ones of pain, loss, and sorrow. Each animal extinction will be a death knell for me. Polar bears, penguins, tigers, gorillas... The large mammals will go first. Then birds, amphibians, whales, fish, coral reefs. And trees! We will lose so many beautiful trees.
I am tired of being afraid alone. I need to be with other people who are afraid of this, and who are willing to admit that they are afraid.