Living in fear of being diagnosed with a chronic or terminal disease 112



View Profile

It all started about age 50. We ran into some old friends that we had not seen in 10 years and asked them all to a barbecue. We use to have regular barbecues 10 years ago but somehow we had all drifted apart. When they all arrived, the excitement of seeing them again and catching up and cooking and drinking was great, then we finished dinner and the real talk started.

At my barbecue there were five couples and one single guy. The single guy or should I call him Brian was a diabetic and had collapsed with a heart attack while in court fighting for custody of his two year old 10 years prior. When I last saw him he was very ill with some of his major organs starting to shut down, and here he was 10 years later sitting at the end of the table. He said he had grown an inch with his new legs, and was often referred to as legless.

The next couple Samantha and John had also had problems with their health around 50. John had suffered a heart attack at 51 and had a double bypass operation and a couple of years later Samantha had had a hysterectomy because her womb was pre-cancerous. 

Moving on down the table and we had one who had 8 operations on his face and after five years had just gone back to work. This was because he had a bad car accident and it had left him with a very badly smashed face. Probably that was not a natural illness but it did disrupt his life and give him permanent problems with eating. 

As we moved around the table each had a story to tell an illness such as breast cancer, back problems and bowel cancer – all around the age of 50. There was only one fellow who did not have any problems and his son had just become quadriplegic after a motorbike accident.   

You wonder why by the age of 60 you start going to the doctor if there is even a slight symptom…is it fear? We have watched a lot of our friends come down with these illnesses, some die, others becoming dependent with early onset Alzheimer’s, some passing out with dizzy heads, some having operations. Admittedly there are others that remain quite healthy. But 50 was the age more than average problems started to happen. Those who had been exercising all their lives might be healthier, but they too can be struck down with an illness they have inherited. At 60 we are over the first round of major illnesses….now it is disaster and downhill from here.

My daughter thinks that at 60 we panic or are afraid of becoming ill, and start going to the doctor at the first symptom. However I think at my age I go to the doctor when I need to, rather than list out my problems to the world. We are all going to die somehow but I really do not feel that it is fear that sends me to the doctor. Maybe after she has saved her husband’s life a few times, and has had numerous breast lumps and serious problems of her own she will understand why I carefully watch my blood pressure and other symptoms. If you have a chronic illness it becomes part of life and it just has to be watched. It is like servicing a car.

Tell us, do you fear a bad diagnosis in your 60s? Do you think it’s pessimistic to do so, or just being cautious?

Gill Johnston

  1. At 35 I was diagnosed with one of the rheumatoid family of arthropathies . Thought, Oh Shit, short working life in pain. A month later..thought, hang on this ain’t fatal. Still working at 67 ..some joint issues…. AF, now and still thinking…nothing fatal , here.
    Just be positive.

  2. I kept excellent health only seeing the doctor for pregnancys ….then get to 60! Health issues!! Hereditary…I’m so angry with myself

    1 REPLY
  3. Oh yes the magical age of 50 was when my health problems came to the surface.
    Unfortunately the health problems I have are hereditary and we can’t change that, however I believe although I live with chronic pain there are many people worse off than me. Getting old is no fun!

  4. I guess when you get to 60 and onwards you can expect to have some health issues. Very few people would be lucky to escape it. I don’t dwell on it though and try to make the most of life. Yes, the doctor’s visits are more regular now than when I was younger. All I try to do is live a healthy life and what will be will be. It is out of my hands. It is at this age where we start attending a few more funerals than we want to though.

  5. In my 20’s i had 2 lots of brain surgeries in 3 weeks,in my thirties I had a total thyroidectomy and neck surgery,in my fourties a total hystectomy and twelve melanomas,my 50’s were good,I am 62 now and still all good,hoping for smooth ride to the inevitable kicking of the bucket.

    3 REPLY
  6. In my twenties I had a lung collapse , in my thirties I had breast cancer, forties clear, fifties breast cancer again, sixties hip and knee replacement but loving life and feeling better than ever….

    4 REPLY
    • Like Christine in the post before,so rough been thrown a curve ball at 20! You have a great outlook and May you also go well from now on🌺

    • Keep going Judy. I had cervical cancer at age 32, kidney cancer at age 58, now suffering from arthritis (which crippled my father and his mother too). I try to stay positive, but admit I go “down” some days. However, I get back up and count my blessings. Stay well. 🌷🌷💕

    • Christa Caldecott arthritis is a real bugger I’m riddled with it as well but like you have pick yourself up dust yourself off and live life to the fullest much better than the alternative good luck with your pain management …..

    • Catharine Keevill thank you…. that saying what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger is true would rather live my life to fullest and enjoy everyday than sit and feel sorry for my self…getting older is something that is denied to many so like to enjoy…..

  7. I started getting health issues in my 50’s too, years of hard work has taken it’s toll on the bodies of many older Australian’s. This is why it is so obcene that this Liberal Government want to lift the retirement age till 70. Many do not make it to 60 without health issues

    6 REPLY
    • Can’t agree on this one folks. We started full time permanent work in out teens (16) for me. Worked permanent, full time till I was 58.
      The younger gen mostly don’t start full time permanent work till well into their 20’s after uni, travel etc. therefore, those extra 5-8 yrs are just added on at the end.

    • I agree with you Joy Boettcher ,the baby boomers need to retire earlier because we have started work earlier, worked long and hard and worn our bodies out. Today’s young people do usually start their working life later that we did and with so many modern appliances in nearly every field of employment, perhaps their bodies won’t be under the same pressures

    • I totally agree with you David, this bloody government have no idea, most people over the age of fifty do start having some sort of health problems after a lifetime of working, & it’s for that reason it’s harder for older people to find work, I don’t think it’s because they are intimidated by us or prejudice against older people, it’s just a case of companies can’t afford to employ people that stand a higher chance of someone needing to be off on sick leave a lot, it’s only common sense that as we get older we slow down, I have a friend that spent ages trying to find a job, about 8mths after finding one she found out she had a serious health problem & for the past year has had to have constant time off work ( not her fault) even though her work place has been very supportive of her it has made it very hard for them to staff around her, she passed away 2 weeks ago😢.. So I do see why employers are less likely to employ older workers as opposed to younger fitter people, so I don’t see why this bloody government can’t understand that employers may be taking a higher risk with an older person as far as needing time off or keeping up with hectic work loads & deciding to go with younger people, & that’s not our fault, or employers, we are just ageing & at some point we need to stop or can’t work any longer, but this government Can’t see this & just expects us to keep working even longer Pfff 😒

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *