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July 21, 2014: How to live with dying
Journal entry by Michael March — 7/21/2016

Two years ago today I was diagnosed with HPV Throat Cancer. My last radiation treatment for that cancer was on October 13, 2014. Time is fleeting and it seems like only yesterday I was ringing the bell at Johns Hopkins indicating my treatment had come to an end. While also praying cancer was in the rear-view mirror of my life but also knowing I had already started to worry about the next cancer. Instead of the 7 years between the first and second cancers, I only got 450 days this time.

Here we are, two years later, to the day, and I am getting ready for my third chemotherapy treatment for my latest, and last, cancer diagnosis. There is a part of me that is grateful knowing this is the last time I have to fight cancer. As hard as that might be for most people to hear, it simply is the truth. I'm tired of the pain, the anguish, the tears, and the never ending worry that cancer will keep coming at me until it wins. I am starting to view this as a fight to the death, and I will win by dying. Once I die, the cancer also dies and it can not come back again. My faith tells me my death is only the beginning of my forever life. I win simply by killing the ability of the cancer to thrive in my body.

No matter how hard I fight this one, this cancer always wins. There is only so much a person and a family can deal with. I am at the end of my ability to fight another cancer. However, I am not at the end of fighting the one I have now. The cancer I am fighting now is terminal and there is no way out, no way to win, no way to beat it this time. Just knowing this is the last time I will have to go through the pain and everything associated with having cancer, has actually helped me in various ways.

Just thinking about having to fight cancer a 4th time sends chills down my spine. Each time you fight the Beast it wears you down a little. I simply can not imagine having to deal with this a fourth time. Now that I know this is my last fight, in a weird, strange way, it does give me some relief. It also makes the fight a little easier.

My days are slowly becoming indistinguishable from each other, and even night and day are at times tossed around and I am, at times, not be sure what part of the day I am actually in. Not to mention what day it actually is. I seem to no longer care if today is Saturday or Tuesday. It just no longer matters to be honest. I no longer care what time it is either. Which is a bit odd, but understandable, at least to me.

While trying to live each day to its fullest, I have also started to lose those small things that make each day normal. I no longer drink coffee because it no longer tastes good to me. I have started to give up on almost anything with carbonation but I still try to have a coke now and then. Since you know, what the hell does it matter what you eat or drink when you are dying anyway? Over time things will be taken away or at least no longer reached for as those things no longer bring joy or fulfillment. This is how I think people actually get through the last months of their lives.

I think by the time I have actually reached the last week of my life, I will be ready to say goodbye and just slip away. I look forward to what comes next because none of us really knows what that is, and there is no stopping whatever it is from happening. My faith tells me there is a much better place that awaits all believers. So, there is nothing about dying that worries me. I just worry about pain and suffering.

Today is just another day. It is also day 199 since January 5, 2016. That means I am 19 days past that first possible end date of 6 months. There are some days when I think I will make it to that 12 month limit as well, but some days I wonder if I will make it to August 20, my birthday.

There is a part of me that really feels like I am running away or at least getting off too easy. I have only had to bury my father and step-father. I won't have to bury my mother, my step-mother, nor a brother or sister or an Uncle or Aunt. I truly hope and pray my family finds the fortitude to do the hard things after I am gone. There are a lot of hard things that will need to be managed in the coming years, and I will not be there to help, or lend a hand. I feel like I am just getting off too easy.

I have now had cancer for the third time and final time, and I do hope and pray I have taken the bullets intended for everyone else in my family. If 20 years from now I am remembered for the cancers that killed me, and no one else had to deal with it, I think I would be okay with that.

This will be just another day. Sometimes another day is simply too much to think about, and you just put one foot in front of another and blindly move forward.

Just another day.....

M
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