Borrowed time

February 25, 2007

Is it a gift or a curse to be diagnosed with a terminal illness?  

Humans often live as if they have infinite time.  My mother does not.  She is living on borrowed time.  2 years ago she was diagnosed with DCIS breast cancer, short for Ductal Carcinoma In Situ.  DCIS is a often called stage 0 because it is still encapsulated or contained.   Traditional treatment consists of a lumpectomy and follow-up 6 weeks of daily radiation treatments “just in case”.  During my mother’s initial diagnosis we were assured this was non-cancer and nothing to really worry about. 

One year later, exactly, the cancer had spread into the spine, the ribs, the pelvis, the collar bone and other places around her body officially taking her from Stage 0 to Stage IV breast cancer in 12 months.

My mother does not have a “time frame” prognosis.  They don’t really do that anymore.  There are many effective treatments for Stage IV breast cancer, and many that don’t affect the cancer at all.  Some women live months at this stage and others find a treatment that keeps the cancer at bay, living years, sometimes decades longer than they should have.   The problem is, upon diagnosis, you don’t know in which half of the spectrum you fall.

So this is my advice to you, dear reader.  Live each day like you only have limited time.  Take control over your life by working less and demanding more; more time with your loved ones, more time spent on things you enjoy.  Take the time to watch the seasons change and to appreciate nature.  We don’t have an abundance of time.  In the spectrum, even 70 years is just a blip.   

This is the goal of simple living; to live a purposeful life and not let other things and other people control  your life.  Why wait until your older to travel?  Travel now.  Why wait until your kids are grown to get to know them or to slow down?  Get to know them now.   The truth is, we don’t know how much time we have.  You could be like my grandfather who passed away after 93 years on this earth or like my mother who, at 60, is unsure how many sunrises and sunsets she has left.

Live now, don’t put it off because we are all on borrowed time.

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