Incredibly I have been running this site for nearly 10years! Progress with these projects can be slow and gradual so can be unnoticed week to week. But I was reminded recently about the true international nature of my work when I was selected as one of the best cancer blogs in 2021 by my friends Asbestos.com in the US! When they contacted me to tell me the good news I invited one of their team to share this incredibly moving story.
A massive thank you to Corey Doane from San Diego, who took the time to write this piece, sharing her personal feelings and learnings from her father, who spent the final years of his life living with cancer.
“As the saying goes, “In the end, it’s not the years in your life that count; it’s the life in your years.” My father was diagnosed with kidney cancer in 2012 and fought his battle until 2020. A couple years after having one of his kidneys removed, we found that the cancer had metastasized to his liver and his lungs. Of course, there was talk with the doctors about his life expectancy and they gave us a number.
While I can’t speak for all cancer patients and can only speak on what my father told me, he was given a choice: dwell on the fact that he had limited years left in his life, or cherish the years he did have left and live life to the fullest. He spoke openly about his life and the fact that he knew one day he would pass on, and he was content with knowing that each day he had left here on this earth, he was going to spend it living on his terms—never letting cancer define who he was.
All throughout my fathers cancer journey, he remained optimistic and hopeful, and I truly believe that is why his fight lasted so long. He beat the odds time and time again and continued to fight the good fight. He continued to surpass that “life expectancy” timeline again and again. His spirit and attitude remained hopeful throughout his entire journey—even during the times he was hurting. It helped him push through the lowest of lows, while also teaching all of us many life lessons along the way.
Oftentimes, I felt my family and I were struggling more emotionally than my father was because we were scared to see him go. To us, quantity of life meant more time with my dad and that’s what we wanted. Who wouldn’t want more years with their loved ones? But, my dad always told us he would rather live each day feeling good than try to prolong his life by using different medications or finding different treatments that ultimately made him feel like, for lack of a better term, crap. Of course, family, friends and even your doctors don’t want you to die, but does adding more years to your life actually contribute to the quality of it?
When my father passed, I thought about this a lot. From the day he first got diagnosed to the next 8 years after that, my life perspective changed. I had a new found respect for the little things, the little moments. These situations teach you life lessons you’ll carry with you forever. I’m thankful for the little moments I spent with my dad—taking him to treatment appointments, having our morning father daughter coffee chats or going for our daily walk.
I’m most of all thankful for the gift of time. These little moments while they don’t seem the most important at the time, they are the moments you’ll hold on to forever. When my dad’s health started to decline and the end of his life started nearing, it was at the start of the COVID-19 shutdown. At this point, I was unemployed, my family was no longer working and we all were quarantining together during the stay at home order. At the time, I thought things couldn’t get much worse than that.
We were forced to stay home and there was so much fear about the future—a fear a lot of us experienced during 2020. When I look back on that time now, I’m so glad it happened. Because it allowed us to slow down and we were given the gift of time, which we wouldn’t have been given otherwise. Life can get so busy and we can often get caught up living our lives that we forget to slow down and enjoy those “moments” together.
Hard times in our lives can also lead to the most important life lessons. They allow us to take a step back and realize what truly matters most in life. My dad taught me not to take life too seriously, to live life the way I want to live it and to always lead with love. To hold your loved ones close and enjoy the moments we have with them, big and small. He taught me that the quality of the life I lived matters more than the amount of time we have to live on this earth. Our days are never promised, but we get to choose how we want to spend them.
As we are aware, the way that different countries deal with cancer varies, but the impact on us as humans remains the same psychologically. What we are learning with coved19 is the only way we will deal successfully with it, will be globally. I have always believed this to be the issue with cancer. Seeing us patients coming together I hope is encouragement for global healthcare to get it’s finger out now with cancer! We cannot accept more delays and excuses as we are losing members of our community daily, in every country in the world.