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elephant in the room, death and cancer

The Elephant in the Room

So there’s something we haven’t really explicitly talked about on here before and it’s kinda important. It’s the whole reason cancer is even a big deal, actually. So let’s do it, let’s talk about death, the implications that come along with it, and how to best cope with it. That’ll be fun, right?

We’re all going to die eventually, having cancer just makes you think about it a lot more. I mean, if I survive cancer then that would be a big deal, but I would still die later on. Not like making it through a thousand rounds of chemo makes you immortal. Ultimately, everything that is done at a hospital is a stall for time. Whether it’s CPR on a guy having a heart attack, chemotherapy, or even your doctor saying you’re a big fat fatty and you gotta lose weight to lower your cholesterol, it all is just in the name of buying time. So I’ve always felt it important and beneficial to remember that even though we have cancer now, it’s not like NOW we’re going to die whereas before we were diagnosed we weren’t. It’s not like now we face some terrible fate that could have otherwise been avoided. I realize that now that fate is much closer and much more real, but it’s not like it wasn’t real before. We just didn’t think about it as much.

I think the acceptance of death as an inevitability is an important step in the cancer journey. Coming to the realization that it’s going to happen no matter what. It’s made things easier and less severe for me. I viewed beating cancer and beating death as one in the same before, but the reality is that death has already won. You’re not gonna live forever so just do your best to make sure cancer isn’t what kills you and be happy with the time you gain from fighting.

Once you can accept death and be comfortable(ish) with the thought of it, it turns death from a horrible nightmare into something positive. Death no longer is this horrible thing that you have to fight, now it’s a finish line and your job becomes not to worry about what happens after the race, but to look at the flowers on the side of the road as you run. It’s no longer about what happens after you die, but what happens if you don’t make the most of the time before then. This realization makes things more special as you experience them. It turns concerts into cathartic experiences. It turns holidays into milestones. It changes the time you spend and the relationships you build into a legacy.

Blue Oyster Cult might be a stupid name for a band but their song has a point: the reaper is not someone to fear, but instead something to use as motivation. Turn your fear of the end into something that pushes you to take risks in life and come out the other side with a richer experience of what this world has to offer. I’m not saying you should get drunk, go to Vegas, and marry a hooker cause yolo. I’m saying don’t let your mind put up barriers of what you can’t do and don’t put off things you want to do because “there’s always time” because I can tell you first-hand there isn’t always time so have adventures while you can. Hell, half the reason I write this blog at all is so I can leave behind something beneficial to the world after I die.

The other thing I want to address if worrying about what happens after death. If you’re devoutly tied to a religion and you believe in your heart of hearts there’s something afterwards then goody for you. But if you’re still on the fence about it like I am then I find it helps not to worry too much about it. Remember, worrying is like a rocking chair, it gives you something to do but it doesn’t get you anywhere. To me, it really doesn’t matter. Maybe there’s a heaven, maybe a hell, maybe I’ll be reincarnated as a potato, who knows. Spending your life worrying about it won’t change what’s going to happen so might as well not worry and just dive into the deep end when the time comes. Besides, every single person, plant, and animal that has ever been on this Earth before and passed away has done it so at least we’ll be in good company.

I guess what I’m saying is that death is a part of cancer and a part of life. Try not to worry about it, there’s no point. If you spend too much time thinking about it, it will consume you and you’ll end up wasting the time you do have. Just try to have fun with it and turn it into a positive any way you can.

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2 thoughts on “The Elephant in the Room

  1. Thank you for sharing! I am living with Stage IV metastatic breast cancer and death is always on my mind. We need to talk about this elephant (and many others) to destigmatize it and make it easier to deal with. When our experiences are shoved away, put in the dark or ignored, it becomes harder to prepare the next generation to handle it. Love and light to you!

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