Waking up

Death was not something that I expected to confront at 31. At this age, most people are building their families, their careers and thinking about the future, not thinking that everything could be over soon. I have mixed feelings about the experience that I cope with daily. On one hand, it was a scary and terrifying experience. I mean, thinking about losing my life and not being here anymore. I had a blood clot as a result of chemotherapy that nearly took my life. As I spent a week in intensive care, I remember thinking about all of the things I hadn’t done, the sole focus I had on my career and education. I spent the last 12-13 years of my life studying and almost didn’t get to reap the benefits of that. It would have been such a waste of life from my perspective to spend so much time climbing for this goal that I achieved, but never really enjoyed. I should have been focusing on all of the life that was happening all along the way.

I would equate this near death experience as a confrontation. I can either succumb to worry about cancer coming back (which lets be honest, every appointment I have reminds me how little control I actually have), some days are easier than others. OR I can take this opportunity to live life the way I want to live it. I can remember how freeing it was right after my first surgery. All of the things that complicated my life were gone, I was in the patient role (with little mobility my wife had to do almost everything for me). I had the excuse that I was recovering which got me out of all of the “obligations” that I didn’t want to cater to anymore. I would equate this experience to waking up from a dreamlike state, sort of a fog that I was in. I was going through the motions, not questioning anything, and sort of coasting through life on autopilot. This experience was like getting the first breath after a coma, waking up to see life for what it really was.

Now that I am moving forward, a year and a half after treatment, I find myself battling these obligations again.

I would like to say that confronting death caused me to have this life changing experience, that nothing was ever the same. This was true for a while, but just as old habits and perspectives took a long time to develop, a single event (no matter how traumatic it is) is rarely enough to instill long term change. I find myself fighting my old tendencies of perfectionism, people pleasing etc, and hate that these things are still relevant right now. I am fighting most days to retain the perspective that I had after my diagnosis, really emphasizing how little all of that stuff really matters.


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  • Q4lifeQ4life Community Member
    Funny. Death doesn’t discriminate. I can relate. Your post had me Think how we as humans pretend mortality & death can’t touch us. Like funerals & the dead presented as they are asleep. My sister cried for 7 days after I told her. I cried for two & thought this is my life. It’s been good. I was able to relax.

    I began to see my experience as guess not yet but someday death will come. After this I will be ready.

    Thank you for your post. For your honesty & authenticity. I can relate about the old habits. Yet for me I have no interest in being surrounded by people or events that hold no interests. I prefer a good book. To hang with less people but have more meaningful connections. Not social by drinking & smoking. It changes your values & interest this experience of cancer.