Cancer Lesson #58: Cancer Reminds Us We’re Going to Die

Cancer Lesson #58: Cancer reminds us we’re going to die.

Let me say upfront, if having cancer made you a better person, I’m glad.  And if you can view the disease as a “blessing,” well you’re certainly more evolved than I’ll ever be.

I’m three years out now (and counting every moment with gratitude), and my conclusion about having had cancer is this: What cancer does is remind us — rather forcefully — that we’re going to die.

Perhaps for some, this has the effect of making them a better person.
For others, not so much.

I only know how this knowledge has affected me.
For one thing, I’m a lot less patient when people waste my time — not exactly a “better person” kind of attribute.
On the other hand, if I want to take time from what I “should” be doing to do something I want to do, well, guess which wins?
I’m more likely to try things I might not have in the past. I’m also more able to say, “No, I’m not going to try that because I don’t want to.”
Each day, I am more grateful my mom is still with us, sassy as ever at age eighty-four.
At the same time, I grow ever more concerned about my friends who are still in treatment, and yet so thankful to have them as part of my life.

I’m more grateful overall, better able to pull myself back from daily stress by reminding myself of my mantra, “Happy to be here. Happy to have hair.” (And the second part is negotiable.)

We’re all going to die.  And that eventuality is statistically more likely to come sooner for those of us who have had cancer or are in treatment for it.
Or not.
People die every day in completely unexpected ways.

The challenge is learning to live every day.
Cancer has taught me to try.



6 thoughts on “Cancer Lesson #58: Cancer Reminds Us We’re Going to Die

  1. I have learned from my heart and lung issues that you take your blessings where you can. To be thankful for the life you have left. Not just at Thanksgiving time, but every day. Great post again Kym.


  2. I’m with you on the time wasting. Two years out, I had a bad scare the other day. I have a lot of pain in my hip. The orthopedic surgeon casually told me we’d be getting a bone scan to eliminate metastases and avascular necrosis of the head of the femur due to chemotherapy. It was a nasty few days and I got extremely grumpy with his receptionist when she wouldn’t give me the scan report that told me I was clear “because Doctor hasn’t told me I can give it to you”. My body, my scan, my bill, MY DAMN REPORT. It’s all good, I ‘only’ need surgery, probably, but it was a bad week. It’s a strange world when a possible hip replacement is a blessing….


    • I have a friend in treatment for cancer right now whose lungs fill with fluid on a regular basis. And every time it happens, she has to go through a similar song and dance. After having it happen at least four times, don’t you think the nurses would understand she knows when she needs one? And maybe fast-track her? Doesn’t happen.

      And for the doc to not immediately red stamp his permission on a report that shows you’re clear is inexcusable! Still, very glad to hear it’s not metastases.

      I feel guilty that I’ve gotten off light (though I can’t help praying it stays that way) – scars that ache when the weather changes or I exercise too strenuously, an arm that hurts from time to to time, and an imperfect breast are a small price to pay.


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