By: Revanche

What if you had a year to live?

May 10, 2007

What if you were getting older, and were told you only had a year left? What would you do differently? “Live like you were dying” as Timmy McGraw says?

What a twisted opportunity that presents. You’ve got nothing to lose living life to the fullest, and enjoying your hard-earned savings, right? As all of us ponder, from time to time, what’s the point if you’re not enjoying life? We talk about how aggressively we should save simply because we just don’t know what’s going to happen next, and we don’t want to be caught short in retirement. And that’s a valid point. But what if you knew you only had a year to live? Sorta boils down the questions, doesn’t it?

Perhaps. Or you could be this guywho was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and “quit his job, sold or gave away nearly all his possessions, stopped paying his mortgage and spent his savings dining out and going on holiday.” He then finds out that his diagnosed cancer was actually “no more than a non-life threatening inflammation of the pancreas.”

Oh, the irony! Still, in time-honored tradition, he feels “really pleased that” he’s “got a second chance in life… but if you haven’t got no money after all this, which is my fault — I spent it all — they should pay something back. If he can’t get compensation, he is considering selling his house or suing the hospital that diagnosed him. The hospital has said that while it sympathizes with Brandrick, a review of his case showed no different diagnosis would have been made.”

(Wait, I thought this guy was a Brit, are they as sue-happy as we Americans are? He admits it was his fault for spending it all, but yet the hospital is still responsible for his spending spree. But if he’d really had cancer, they’d be responsible if he hadn’t had a chance to enjoy life, if he had been misdiagnosed with the inflammation of the pancreas. They really can’t win for losin’.)

I notice that it doesn’t mention that he spent anything on cancer treatments, though. I guess he was going to let nature run its course? Of course it sucks that he had to think he was dying, but goodness, did he have to spend himself silly? I can’t help but think that if he’d considered making a will to distribute something to those he was leaving behind or even a worthy charity to receive his wealth after he passed, he wouldn’t be in quite such dire straits: “Brandrick was left with little more than the black suit, white shirt and red tie that he had planned to be buried in…”

Not that he was obligated to leave anything behind, but I’m just sayin’. Charity can still pay off, even if you’re dying. Or not dying.

Moral of the story? Don’t be so quick to believe everything doctors tell you, they’re not infallible. You might end up living.

One Response to “What if you had a year to live?”

  1. Slarry says:

    OR WHAT IF YOU WERE THIS GUY ?
    The following are some of his thoughts, feelings
    upon discovering he had less than 6 months to live.
    http://www.donotgogentle.bloogspot.com

    He died. December 20, 2006
    9 months after he was diagnosed with end stage,
    terminal Pancreatic Cancer. He was 38 years old,
    and a Professor at the University of Washington, Seattle.
    A beautiful life cut short. A beautiful mind cut short.
    Read his words on what he did when discovering he had less than a year to live.

    An older writing from my brother that still holds true today. Another “life lesson” that I will
    probably be learning daily. I miss him a lot today and wish I could just call him up and
    talk for a minute, check in and see how things are going. Give him an update about how our Mom is doing and what plans and paths I’m considering following. sas

    Written Sept. 20, 2006.
    hough word verification and moderation are required.
    Wednesday
    9.20.06, Something like 21 Grams

    Is there something that I’m learning? Yesterday’s “Anonymous” (to yesterday’s post) commencer pointed out that I’m doing something along the lines of passing along information, teaching as it were, perhaps from my unconscious somewhere. Teaching without even knowing it. Something about “how to live,” that’s what is was. The without knowing it part I agree with. I was excited to see there might be a “life lesson” in there somewhere, so I had to have to go back to the last post and search it out. I write the blog and now I find myself in reader’s shoes. The ignorant preacher — if there were to be a preacher anywhere, he or she must be ignorant. Or else how could it work? There is no other way.

    I’ve been watching 21 Grams this evening, without any foreknowledge, no idea of plot or theme, the stench of death all over the film somewhat of a kick to the head. One’s gone, one’s gone. To watch this film and think “Me. It’s me in a number of weeks or months. Part of it is me.” Except the cigarette jones. Who knows. It’s all allegory, but then like I was suggesting in the post on “Where Truth is to be Found” that’s the truest way to tell a real story. Truth in fiction being the only kind we can rely on. Truth in poetry. And then again . . . it breaks down at some point.

    So I’m trying to figure out what it is that’s being taught here, by accident, from this other side of my personality that writes in the blog. Reader’s shoes. Where is the truth there? What are the stories being told? More scattered thinking from the blogging me.

    And today, how has it gone? Harsh, actually. After feeling good for a few days, and mildly living with the background fear that it’ll be jinxed, today I woke up in a very different physical state. Not feeling so good. —how to explain this without seeming pitiful, without appearing pitiful, without being unduly, something, about it. What would be the word. Too much of something that will kill the writing. So the day begins on the low side, and then where does it go from there?

    Eventually today I started feeling angry about it — there is it. Anger, that natural emotion we are supposed to feel in the process of it all, what is supposed to help get us out of the funk. Me and my natural funk. To be expected, right. It’s in all the books, after all. But the extra pain eventually just became so tedious, today anyway, what was I going to do about it? I took extra pain meds to try and get a handle on it. Think of those raised eyebrows. Eventually it cut down to a more reasonable level, to get me off the bed, off my side, from waiting for something better. Get back into a manageable level of life, then go from there. Just one step forward.

    What was curious is how the pain meds cut down the pain to a certain degree, not to the point of elimination, but rather to a heightened sense of where I was, where I am. And this is what got me pissed off. They cut the pain just enough for anger to take hold. I started off just angry about being in pain, about it, the pain, about it not being obedient. It doesn’t listen to me. It’s obdurate. And then the sense spread to larger issues that touch this entire experience. To what I’m doing every day, to facing the same challenges daily. I suppose even the questions that have been slinking around the shadows — the nasty ones without answers like “Why has this happened?” and “How is this supposed to play out?” I’ve known from the start, intellectually at least, that there is no point to it, that these are dead end issues. There is no water in that well. So why even lower the bucket?

    I don’t intend to rant. Another well with no water. But I did just want to put out the questions, to say what it is that’s happening, and not to garnish it so that it looks more appealing. Today wasn’t even that much worse than a lot of days, it’s just another one in the deranged series I’ve been assigned. Perhaps the anger is good for me, perhaps it’s another source of strength, perhaps there are, forgive the triteness, lessons to be learned in this too. Shit. It’s all fucked up beyond expression, from the perspective of my little world at least. So here it is, raw blogging, saying the things that might cause concern, saying what’s really going on despite how personal it is, despite what it means to walk through life in this strange state of plurality. The me who wakes up in a singular state of physicality each morning, the different mes who blog and pick what to share, the me who needs to stand up as straight as possible, who walks to the store, the disconnected mes and the mes who are inextricably tied.

    I don’t know.

    Posted by Mr. Jones at 10:08 PM    

    2 COMMENTS:
    tossing salads said…
    i dont know either except it angers me also. i dont know what to do except tell you ill do whatever you want to help you on this journey. and its a pissy journey. i hate that your in pain. it gives me hope that this proceedure will help in that. you can have some pain free days and expend your energy on other stuff that may give you pleasure. im grateful that you can go to ny. that i think will be restorative for you. im going to logan tomorrow and am excited to go there, even tho there is nothing there to do. watching a friend or better supporting a good friend running the marathon there on saturday. just a nice diversion. i love you brother, just ask anytime k. as pain less days as possible and good sleep.
    6:09 AM
     
    Slarry said…
    “JUST ONE STEP FORWARD”

    CANCER SUCKS.
    I wore my “Cancer Sucks” tee shirt to the grocery store the other day and a
    stranger walked up to me and said, while pointing at my shirt, “Yes, it does.”
    And then he proceeded to tell me of his experience with cancer. He shared and echoed
    some of the feelings you so bravely and honestly share with us.

    And yes, you are teaching us, those who are listening, “life lessons.”
    This is one of the things I know and have learned from you. That life is precious and
    time should not be taken for granted or wasted.

    Also, that cancer is like some people: it is rude, ill mannered, unpredictable,
    disrespectful and void of empathy. It is selfish and I hate it. More—
    I hate that you have it.

    That you had a glimmer of an almost pain free and normal day, only to have it taken
    away again, makes me angry too. It makes me want to scream, yell and cry of how unfair
    it is. And so I did. I did all of those things and I can honestly say, it made me feel a little bit better.

    The flip side– is that I know how strong you are. You will somehow find your way through this, as you rage and fight and “not go gently.” You continue to take “one step forward”
    when others would give up and give in. You always have.

    It speaks to your character, your beautiful mind. This is one of the reasons
    I put you on a pedestal, a higher level and I know you don’t like it when I do.
    But there is truth in it. You are amazingly mentally strong, kind and determined
    and a great and generous teacher. Empathetic and wise.

    I hope today, even though it is a chemo day, that you will have some
    peace and comfort– if only in the fact that you are so loved by so many. But also–
    no pain, a good nights rest and the the thought that you are flying away
    from some of this tomorrow.

    DITTO DITTO DITTO to “anonymous” from yesterday’s comments.

    I love you infinite numbers— I know you already know that.
    And my respect for you just continues to grow more and more each day.

    I’ll be thinking of you as will so many others.

    sas

    BTW: I do intend to rant and rave and rage
    against this stupid cancer.
    7:59 AM  

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