Chronos Kairos and the Cottage.

Chronos Kairos and the Cottage.


Growing up in Northern Ontario, and working in Sudbury for many years, and now Kingston, I know a great number of people who have their own private heaven.  They call this heaven by different names – cottage, camp, cabin, etc. Of course there is work (heaven isn’t a place for lazy people) – fixing docks, clearing brush, cutting lawns, chopping wood, repairing screens – and there are some nuisances – mosquitoes, black flies, noisy boat neighbours, occasional bears, raccoons, mice, cold mornings etc. – but there is no denying that it is their private heaven :).  Just writing this post makes me smile because I can go there in my head 🙂 – calm lake…a sunset…a drink on the dock..a Sauna and jump in the lake….a rainy day with rain on the tin roof…

Yep, Heaven.  Ahhhhhh.

In my job, I always ask patients “What is most important to you, and what do you enjoy doing?”  Answers vary (I don’t keep a formal database) but often for importance: family, spouse, quality of life, religion, quantity of life, not being a burden.  Interestingly, I never (rarely) hear :my job, politics, the Blue Jays, the Maple Leafs, making money.  For ‘what do you enjoy doing?’, again “spending time with family, spending time with friends, travel, hunting, fishing, driving etc.

When I tease out the question a bit more – What does Quality of Life mean to you?  What quantity is important?  What do you mean ‘being a burden’?  – answers vary.  For some, quality means freedom from suffering – for others quality means ability to do everything fully independently, for others – quality means travel, cottaging, and “bucket listing”.  For Quantity, what is important and meaningful varies from person to person – it might be a few months, or some other preconceived time frame, or it might be ‘until a special day’ – a wedding, an anniversary, a granddaughters birth, Christmas, Summer Vacation etc.

The Greeks called these different concepts of time Chronos and Kairos – i.e. time measured by a unit such as days, weeks, months, years etc. is Chronos (and easy to measure).  Time as an experience is Kairos.  Going to the cottage, spending time on the lake, sitting under the stars on a summer night – these are Kairos.


Lessons learned from hitting a tree with an ATV.

When I was starting my practice, a cousin of mine was diagnosed with brain cancer (glioblastoma).  Unfortunately, he passed away, but before he did he taught me (inadvertently) a valuable lesson when dealing with patients.

In cancer practice, it is fairly routine to tell patients with brain tumours (or other cancers that have spread to the brain) that they cannot and should not drive anymore.  Letters are sent to the MTO (in Ontario) to inform them of this restriction, and we hope the roads are a safer place because of it.  In many cases, it is the taking away of the license that upsets the patient more than the other thing we talk about… It’s one thing to be dying, and patients often accept this – it’s another to lose independence.. Breaking the bad news of “you can no longer drive” is something patients are often unprepared for, and often makes people angry.  I’m not overly religious – but it’s almost like people can accept ‘God’s Will’ when it comes to life and death, but accepting what seems like one more government intrusion limiting independence is another story…

Anyway, he had his license taken away, and then, on Thanksgiving weekend, he had an ATV accident at camp – although he had a few scrapes, there were no significant injuries –  Except, possibly, to the tree.

This made me realize is that there are a number of issues for patients in real life that we don’t always think of when related to life with cancer, and seeing patients in clinic.  While it is beyond the scope of this blog (or my expertise) to discuss sex, money, relationships, or religion, I will discuss fishing, hunting, camping and cottaging.  If I figure out how to set up a discussion board, I’d like readers input too.  How have you (or your loved one) managed a lung cancer diagnosis with your hobbies or passions?  Have you been able to do the things you’ve wanted to do?  Have you felt that you missed out on some of these?  How have you managed?  etc.