How to Keep Going And Other Tips on Terminal Illness

Every time I get a scan, there is a piece of me that wants the doctor to say, “well actually, we were wrong. You don’t have cancer and if you just use activated charcoal for 3 months, you will be normal.” THAT would be the best news.

charcoal-powder-1053836_1280But instead, at my last scan I got the next best news: “Presumed metastasis within the anterioinferior hepatic lobes near the falciform ligament appears stable to slightly decreased in size from May, 2016. No new hepatic lesion is seen. Stable osseous metastasis in the T11 vertebral body. No new osseous metastasis is identified. No vertebral body height loss. No enlarged or enlarging abdominal lymph nodes. Incidental bilateral L5 pars defects are redemonstrated.” You understand right?

I’m happy with this. Really I am. You’re happy with this. This is great news! The medication is working and I’m not getting worse. (Did that say height loss?)

When my doctors tell me the results, they too are happy, but not ecstatic. I say, “will it be gone next time?” They say, “maybe, but this is good. What we want to see is no progression.” It’s kind of like when you are at the grocery store and your child asks you if they can stay up late and you reply, “maybe” because the answer is no, but you don’t want to ignite a temper tantrum in the grocery store. I’ll have my temper tantrums at home, thank you very much!

So what now?

Keep going. That’s what. This is IT. Every 3-4 months I’ll have a scan. I’ll reach out to the internets. I’ll ask for your positivity and joy and happiness. Hopefully, you’ll continue to put it out into the world. I know I will, but as I’ve said, there is no invitation to love life. Only YOU have the power to decide how you live. Honestly, you guys, this scan cycle and accompanying uncertainty is all quite depressing.

I’ve recently been asked what makes me tick. How do I continue to emit positivity when I could easily throw in the towel- and no one would blame me? The way I see it- there is no other option.

Jerry Greenfield of Ben & Jerry’s said, “If it’s not fun, why do it?” And I have to agree. I just wrote the sentence, “it would be easy to give up” as if I were concluding this, but then I erased it because I actually don’t think I believe that. It would be boring to give up. It would be lonely to give up. It would be scary and dangerous and depressing to give up. If I “gave up,” I would gain nothing. I wouldn’t necessarily have to do anything, so maybe in that way it’s easy, but then what?

When death is on the table, you do not have the luxury of finding your way to becoming the role model you want your children to have. You cannot waste time wallowing in what is beyond your control. I allow my children to see my sadness and my anger and my frustration with our situation, but I want them to know my strength, my positivity and my light. I want them to see my continued resilience in the face of adversity. I may not be here forever, but my legacy will live on through my children and through other people I have had the honor to inspire. I am continuously making lemonade out of the lemons I have been served to show my children that there is ALWAYS a choice to be made about how to approach and live with each and every situation.lemon-1024641_1280

I’m not saying that there won’t be sadness and anger that comes along with IT, but I will be constantly seeking the bright side. I will be consistently making morbid jokes and laughing at whatever I can. I will find positivity. I will approach the world with a smile.

Don’t mistake me for a sugar-coater. That, I am not. But I can laugh at myself and that’s a big deal. There was one time this past year, where I got so mad (don’t worry, the kids were at school!) I picked up the ottoman in our living room and smashed it down on the floor. The legs blew off and I ran upstairs screaming and crying. I seriously hulked the shit out. I was super pissed, hopped up on steroids and felt like I wasn’t being heard. When I think of that, I’m like, whoa. But I can also see the humor and the release and the bat-shit-craziness in my own actions. Some things just can’t be taken too seriously. You’ve got to move on and not dwell on the down times.

But, if THIS is IT, then IT better be fucking great!

Ain’t nobody got time for bullshit, you know what I mean?

IT is going to be fun and happy and positive and lucky and rainbows and gosh darn unicorns.

(See future blog post: Making Time For Bullshit Because Life Isn’t All Rainbows and Unicorns)

So even though I’m a little depressed with my diagnosis right now, I will trudge on. I don’t know about you, but I’ve got some living to do. This life isn’t gonna live itself, if you know what I mean.  

 

6 thoughts on “How to Keep Going And Other Tips on Terminal Illness

  1. I’ve been hearing your frustration in the silence. I continue to pray and sing to you, dedicate my practices to you and be happy for you (us). You are awesome but you don’t have to ride the high line every day. It’s ok.

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  2. Cheers. I had a friend die from untreated diabetes at 31. He gave up. He didn’t like needles. He always had an excuse to continue ignoring it.
    I, for one, am glad you are not the “sitting on your heels” type. Keep up the fight.
    I miss Pete.

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  3. Thank you for continuing to be real and vulnerable. For gifting glimpses of the map you are making of cancerland. There are dragons there. It is helpful to know about those as well as where the unicorns dwell.

    It seems to me that truth of IT is definitely not bunnies and rainbows, the bunnies and rainbows are very much the result of your disciplined reframing. Sugar coating is dangerously undermining, and even more soul crushing than IT. Taking stock and choosing to connect to life, to seek joy where it can be found amidst the ongoing rhythm of scans depends upon allowing your self to feel through the feelings that come up. Anything else seems like a recipe for a pressure cooker. Anything else is like being fed to the dragon.
    Sending thoughts of beauty and love and light-
    Iris

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  4. My hisband has cancer and is going thru chemo. He has many down days during treatment. He also had a heart transplant and lost most of his vision, so he can’t read your blog. I’ll read it to him because you’ve been so inspiring for me. You are a true warrior.

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