Life, in all its beauty, morphs. We begin as innocent children, counting the spots on a ladybug, climbing trees with friends, laughing at cartoons. We become teens, worried about our place in micro-society, understanding a future is coming but not sure what it is. Young adulthood arrives, with the many mistakes and trials we are given along with that famous sense of invincibility. Marriage and parenthood brings with it some settling, a deep understanding of responsibility.
People have different paths, and different choices lead them to have different outcomes. But, the one certainty is that the purpose of life changes as we live it.
And, in a small way, so has the purpose of this blog, which started as a documentation of a particular aspect of my life. When I first began it, as a convenience for friends, family, and myself - I was writing about a cancer that would end. I was going to be that cancer asskicker that I called myself all over this blog, the one who takes this disease by the horns and shoves it where it belongs. I knew the odds for survival, which were long in my favor, so I wrote with confidence and laughter at each thing thrown my way, knowing whatever hardships I faced, they would be overcome.
When treatment was over, I had decided to put down my keyboard. In fact, I was in the process of writing my good-bye post, explaining that I was moving on to my version of cancer survivorship and a renewed life. I'd decided I was not going to live cancer when it was gone, was not going to spend my days in fear of each new ache, and was not going to continue to discuss or write about what was in the past. That was my way of recovering, and the only way I could think to do it - leaving it all behind.
Cancer's ass, I'd decided, was kicked.
But it didn't happen. I was very quickly diagnosed with metastatic disease - so quickly I suspect it was there all along. But, my doctor said I was still "salvageable," and I was given the chance for a rare liver resection and to be one of the 5% who live five years past a metastatic diagnosis. Heck, maybe even ten, or twenty. I was dreaming, sure, but it was a possibility, there was hope. I was still a cancer asskicker, or still had the chance to be. From that point on, this blog would be about living with metastatic cancer, beating those terrible odds and showing it could happen.
Which, it didn't.
In less than a year, cancer was back in my liver. At that point, I knew. The fight was over. From salvage to wreckage, in one scan. Instead of trying to save me, now my doctors make sure that my Advanced Directive is done. I am not going to kick cancer's ass, in fact, I am cancer's bitch. It will take me when it's ready, and I have little say in the matter. The point of this blog changed again. Now it is to describe my life as a terminal patient. I hope it can be about how one prepares their family, manages time and fears, and demonstrates a renewed appreciation for what is left of life.
Because I believe death is natural and know life is full of small tragedies, I have been able to accept this without denial. I am a nobody in the grand scheme of time and human history, an eyelash that falls unnoticed, a drop in the ocean, important only to those who know me, and who will be forgotten in less years than I've lived, except I hope, by my children, who will think of me when they are old. It is sad that I will die before "my time" but it is not unique in this world. Children lose mothers, husbands lose wives, and it happens every day.
Why do I clarify this? I am in a "Best Blogs" contest on Healthline. The grand prize is large, $1000.00, so I have been active in the process of winning. I am grateful for every vote, for every person who has taken time out of their day to help me win, and for whoever nominated me as Best Blog in the first place.
But as I see the facebook and twitter posts from people who encourage their own social networks to vote for me, I notice that many write, "Vote for my friend Ann, who is blogging about her fight to beat cancer" or tweet, "vote for Ann who is kicking cancer's ass." I receive many comments wishing me well in my "fight" or telling me to never give up, saying they hope things will turn around for me and that miracles happen. I realized that while I have changed my thinking about what is going on with me and what this blog is now about, some around me have not.
I am not fighting to beat cancer. Cancer has won. I continue to write, to share what it is like to have a cancer, to have a terminal illness. I am still a cancer blogger, but the fight is gone. I say this not in defeat, but in acceptance.
There is no magic that will change this, no hidden medicine or miracle treatment. My ending is written.
Yes, I still have hope. It is not the same hope you might have, or the hope you think you would have in my place. Hope never dies, but as with life (and blogs), it morphs. I don't hope to beat cancer. I just hope for small amounts of time. I can still hope to see my son graduate high school. I can still hope to feel well enough to visit a newly born family member. I can still hope that I see another spring, and summer. Mostly, I hope to appreciate every day I have.
I also hope to die with dignity, not become too dependent on others, and not cause suffering to those around me. I hope I can prepare them, I hope I get a great hospice team, and I hope all are able to look at death as natural, as I do.
The final phase of this blog arrived, and I think the beautiful Soul Pancake video about my family and me has ushered it in.. The fight is over, but I'm still here. And, as long as I am, I'll tell my stories, make some jokes and hopefully, show that one can leave this world peacefully, gratefully and with love.
Here is the link: http://www.healthline.com/health/best-health-blogs-contest
I would be very grateful to win, as the money will go towards my son's college costs.
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