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Live Like You Are Dying!

June 3, 2014

Each day we live, we are one step closer to death. This is not meant to scare you. It is just stating a fact. In developed countries, people live on average just over 24,000 days.

Although we all know that we are born to eventually die, it can still feel like the world stops for a while when the threat or fear of death to you or someone you love comes knocking at your door.

My family recently received news that I must say did feel like it took my breath away for a while. I didn’t know how to fix this and there is really no way I can, so I am just there to love and support. This story impacts me each day, but it really belongs to my Dad. He has agreed not only to share his story, but to write it himself for you. I am honoured to share with you my Dad’s journey. I couldn’t be more proud of you, Dad.

Written by my Dad:

This journey started with shortness of breath but having a cold, hard winter, I chalked it up to lack of exercise. Each week, the shortness of breath kept worsening which brought me to my doctor. I had a chest x-ray which showed something, then a CAT scan. My doctor called me to come to his office after hours. I brought my wife with me – I couldn’t have kept her home if I wanted to. I needed her support and she knew that.

The doctor reported that my scans and x-rays showed a sizable growth on my right lung, which also appears to be the same on the left kidney and liver. Probably cancer, but the only way to know with certainty was to go in for a biopsy.

My doctor set that next step up with Victoria Hospital in London. After consultation with a doctor there, a bronchoscopy occurred along with a follow-up appointment. The results – it was as suspected, cancer. I was diagnosed with inoperable, extensive small cell lung cancer that had spread to my liver and kidneys. This is the second most aggressive kind of cancer because it spreads quickly and often any noticeable symptoms don’t occur until it is in full force upon you.

I then met with a doctor in oncology-chemotherapy at London Regional Cancer Program – who in turn had me started on chemotherapy the very next morning. This is the path I am currently on for the next four months. At the end of which, I’ll receive radiation therapy.

I have had some time to reflect a bit on things. My first thought when the family doctor told me his suspicion was one of despair. That feeling soon left me as my wife and I started on our journey with this disease.

My biggest concern was that I did not want this information to get to my children and their spouses until I knew for certain. After all, young families have enough to worry about. As it turned out they all handled it like “troupers.” This still left me with some real concerns for my wife. She has been dealing with a daughter who suffered a brain injury nearly two years ago and is still trying to recover. Also, my wife’s mother – dementia has set in very quickly on her. My wife and her siblings are working on getting her into assisted living. This in itself is not easy when dealing with a person who has lost their sense of rationality.

Now, I put my health problem on my wife – I feel for her. She has handled the pressure admirably as she has walked every step with me. My children and their spouses have also been there for me, offering their help constantly. Even my grandchildren help me – not in a physical way but by being my grandchildren, they bring so much joy.

As we go through this I find myself:
1) Appreciating my wife more than I ever have. She is my “rock.”
2) Realizing how much my children and their spouses care for me, offering their help in so many ways.
3) Not getting too excited if things are not perfect in my yard or home.
4) More thankful for each day, especially when I feel good.
5) Very appreciative of the cancer care system, workers and volunteers we have in this province. They are tops!
6) Enjoying each day more and trying not to concern myself about tomorrow as much. Taking one day at a time and finding some joy in each one.
7) Allowing myself more to “flow” with life rather than trying to control it.
8) I look around me and see many people who seem to be in a worse situation than me. I do not think of myself as a victim.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. Rob permalink
    June 10, 2014 10:59 am

    Taking the walk to the mountain top alone is never an option, the testiment of teamwork, loyalty, and honour come with the acceptance that it takes being together through the worst of it, to finally summit and share the stare into the great beyond. I’ve lived the journey with my mom thru cancer, and knowing there was love, forgiveness, and promise of memories took us both through it.

    • June 10, 2014 1:20 pm

      Thanks Rob for your comments, and also for sharing some of your insights along this journey with your Mom. Thank you.

  2. Sandy permalink
    June 30, 2014 8:31 am

    Love this article! The point your Dad made about “allowing myself more to “flow” with life rather than trying to control it” really resonated with me. Thinking and praying for you and your family Carey-Ann.

    • June 30, 2014 9:11 am

      Thanks Sandy for your comments. I know that part about going with the flow resonated with me too. I have learned that all this pushing hard and wearing myself thin actually doing get me any further. It just made me feel like I was in control temporarily and then it wore me down. I guess life is about learning…every step of the way. Take care.

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