I can’t imagine there is much that’s harder in this life than hearing from a doctor that your life is not going to be as long as you would like it to be. We have friends, we have family, we have children, and all of the thoughts that go through your head are probably more about leaving those people behind than for yourself.
Once you wrap your head around it, though, what’s next? How do you live every day? Is it different? The same?
These 15 people who are living that truth are sharing below how things have changed – or not – since their diagnosis.
15. You just continue on.
My heart is failing. Optimistically I have around 5-10 years left, and at 22 I do what most people my age do, I get up in the morning, I go to work, I pay my bills, and I relax on the weekends with my fiance. Honestly I just kind of ignore the clock, it doesn’t help to sweat over it, I have plans and dreams and goals, I try to eat healthy and exercise as much as I am able. I am really looking forward to playing star citizen and hopefully it will be out before I am haha. Humor helps a lot, and I’ve gotten this nice attitude over the past year, I don’t get upset about anything except other drivers, and I generally have a pleasant demeanor. For my case I have time, and I’m thankful for that. There will always be someone else worse off than me, and even if that’s not true it helps me through the day.
I don’t want to bring religion into this, but I’ll leave it at that I don’t believe in an afterlife, all energy is borrowed and one day I’ll give mine back to the world. I’m at peace with this, and oddly enough I wasn’t until writing this post. My day to day will continue to be what it is until it’s not.
I am writing a book(trying to at least) and my fiance and I are talking about having children. I’ve always wanted kids, and hopefully I will be around long enough to help them through most of life’s troubles. So for now I’ll continue to go to work, I’ll continue to pay my bills, and I’ll continue to live as though there isn’t a time limit on my life, because no one likes to leave lunch to put a few more quarters in the parking meter.
14. Power through the rough days.
I have quite a handful of health issues. I dont really have a expiration date, but have already died once of a heart attack and suspect another one to get me eventually. I mostly have the same plan as /u/okojol in this thread but a little different, i dont plan to really off myself but just kind of let one of the many health issues i have to take me so it looks natural. My days mostly consist of the same stuff though, been remodeling my house, part owner of a business im trying to get paid off, as well as my house, been slowly upgrading all material things like furniture and whatever so my wife and kids have nice stuff. Just getting my affairs in order most the time and enjoy the rest of my time. Life is pretty normal for the most part.
I sometimes get really depressed, not sure if its related to a medicine or is just another health issue or what. When it happens though i always wish that when i had the heart attack i wouldn’t have been saved. I always just power threw it and try to do things that make me happy like play with my kids or play video games or even work on my house (not sure why but working on my house makes me happy, so does cleaning it).
Only thing that keeps me going is not wanting to leave my family alone as i could at any moment end it real easily with just a slight increase in a medicine here or not take a few here. Not sure my wife could handle it though so just gonna stick it out until my body gives out by itself.
I estimate i have around 10 years max at the rate i’m going before the next major medical issue rears its head. That would put me in my 40s and i’m alright with that.
13. Lucky every day.
44 years old and Diagnosed with stage 4 colon cancer that had spread to my liver after my 1st colonoscopy.
I knew something was wrong but I thought IBS or something. My wife took it pretty hard but I could tell she was devastated despite putting on a strong front for me and our two kids.
Every day you are lucky enough to experience after that kind of news is such a gift’ I always heard from people on tv or whatever how each day is a gift and all that but when you are looking at a death sentence it really becomes such an overwhelming truth. I was told by my doctors I might be eligible for surgery and as luck would have it after lots of chemo and radiation treatments my tumors had shrunk enough to have surgery. I’ve had a few surgeries and I’m actually doing great and so far I’m NED (no evidence of disease)
I’m still in one piece and feeling like I did in my 20’s. I still carry the overwhelming at times feeling that this life I have is a gift and I am constantly grateful for all experiences I get to still have. I have a much shorter tolerance for bulls*%t and a$$holes and pretty much just speak my mind now whereas before I would reserve commenting to spare hurting someone’s feelings or unwanted attention.
12. Every day is a gift.
I’m in my late 50s and have something called sarcoidosis. It is difficult to explain, but basically it’s death by one body system at a time. I’ve lost ~35% of my lung function, Stage IV. It’s in my skin, my left eye, and it’s really beat up my liver. If my liver gets any worse I will have non-alcoholic cirrhosis. It’s also in my heart, and possibly my kidneys. I wear oxygen at 3L, 24-7-365. My weight has dropped from 290 (I’m a big fellow) to about 240 pounds and still losing. I don’t have much of an appetite.
After much talk with my wife and kids, last December I chose to enter home hospice care. They are very helpful in helping their patients have a good death.
Because of my pain, I am on lots of morphine and synthetic heroin. With that, I still have breakthrough pain. Our youngest daughter (25) lives with us to help my wife and the hospice care team. Also, because of the narcs I gave up driving and now have a state ID card instead.
For the past 2 months my memory has gotten very bad, and I try me best not to worry about, but it’s sad when you call your wife other names. 🙁 I am a prolific writer, and that helps a whole lot! It’s the focusing of writing that allows me to vent.
I keep myself busy with the internet and reading. I watch videos on YouTube…learning videos on things I never knew about like machinery, carpentry, and other “manly man” things. Reddit helps keep me in focus, too. I love people; as a retired Episcopal pastor, my former parishioners help me, too.
I keep a short and insane bucket list: a) Visit Cuba b) get tazed c) watch a bullfight d) go to my 40th HS reunion on July 3 in NE Minnesota e) if my eldest daughter gets pregnant, that’s a huge reason to want to live.
My long-term goal is to live to see 60. (Nice, even number.) Every day is a gift. I don’t “have to” anymore, and that, in it’s own, is a wonderful thing. I also love to laugh…especially about me.
NO GOLD, PLEASE. Someone gave me some a month ago, and it sat there. I don’t know the why’s and how’s about it, all I know is that it eventually went away. Seriously, there are much younger folks here who know about gold and need it much more than this ornery old bearded dude does.
11. Find a new passion.
Haven’t died yet, but was supposed to. The thing is, once I found out I was sick it was already too late to do anything. My days were mainly spent trying various combinations of narcotics.
One thing. I am now a huge pot supporter. When my life really sucked and there was nothing anyone can do. When it was so dark and I wanted to cry. Pot made me giggle, and there is not another substance on earth that can do that.
10. A beautiful day.
I’m going through some pretty serious struggles but today is my day off work and it’s beautiful outside so I’m on a train headed for downtown.
Might go to the park or visit a museum.
9. Projects can be good.
I went into intestinal failure this time last year, and the doctors told me to expect to die by January 2015. I spent my “last” months finishing some songs that I’d been working on, and writing more to create an album that could be my legacy. I ended up surviving, and it’s being released at the end of this month!
I spent every waking moment with my wife, and I visited my family a couple of times when I had the energy. I was too tired and in too much pain to create a bucket list, so recording my album was my project.
8. Try not to stress.
I’m 21. This summer I had a cardiac arrest while playing soccer. Less than 5% chance of survival. Luckily I was saved by a teammate who knew CPR and then recovered in the ICU of a hospital for 10 days. I’ve got a S-ICD now.
I’m putting a lot of trust in that device to keep me alive if my heart stops again but I know I can’t live in fear. I’m back at school now and gradually building up strength again. My journey is sort of the opposite of the others in this thread but I’m really just trying to live day by day and not stress about my illness.
If all works out I’ll live a long life and die when I’m ready. Or I might die tonight in my sleep. Either way I’m alive now and that’s all that matters.
7. A necessary diet.
I have a hereditary defect in my heart. Some of it has been corrected by surgery, but it’s unlikely I will live past my 50s.
That is, unless a new procedure comes along.
Anyway, I live normally with a few exceptions – a have to severely limit my carb/sugar/sodium intake and I can only consume red meat a few times a month. Basically, it sucks but I do ok.
And before anybody asks, I am not obese nor have I ever been.
6. The waiting is hard.
Stage 3IIC ovarian cancer here. 43 years old, wife & mother. Life really kind of sucks – I’m here, Waiting for recurrence, & there’s nothing I can do to stop it.
The waiting is the worst…
5. Don’t give up!
I was diagnosed with a non-ischemic cardiomyopathy about four years ago. Thought it spelled disaster – permanently on medication with rough side effects, the worry that strenuous activity could set off an attack that could kill me, etc. But I was lucky enough to get some additional opinions from some amazing doctors who found me to be a candidate for a thing called a catheter ablation.
Basically, my cardiomyopathy was being caused by wayward cells making my heart fire way more often than it was supposed to. Like putting a bunch of miles worth of wear on your engine by running the motor in neutral for yours on end.
The ablation killed those cells and my heartbeat returned to normal. Less than a year later, the weakness disappeared and I was back to normal blood volume.
Moral of the story – it’s worth exploring your options!
4. No plans for the future.
Stage 4 cancer here. I don’t know exactly how much time I have left, but I’m 2 years into a disease that has an 11% 5 year survival rate.
My day has changed very little from before I was diagnosed. I get up, take my daughter to school, go to work for 8 hours, go home, cook dinner and repeat. Some people say going through the motions is “helpful” in some way, but I was off work for 17 months during chemo and radiation. Aside from the whole cancer treatment part, those were the best months of my life. I got to spend good time with my family that I hope created some great memories.
Literally the only reason I work is for insurance. My husband is retired and I’m the main breadwinner. Even though social security declared me 100% disabled, I have to work to have health and life insurance.
I’m currently in semi-remission, with stable lung mets being held at bay by Avastin every 3 weeks. When the Avastin ceases to work, I hope there are other options.
I do not plan for the future, beyond a couple of months. I’m not afraid to die, but I am afraid to try to live.
3. Just another day.
Cancer survivor here. I was supposed to be dead in 1997 (before my third birthday) but I’m still going. Every day is a miracle, so I’ve just gotten to the point that every day is just another day. Full time student as of right now.
But my parents’ friends noticed something strange about me – they said I’ve always seemed to have a “carpe diem” type attitude towards everything.
2. Find the happy.
I’m 22 with Cystic Fibrosis and my life expectancy that Ive been told is 30, but I guess its gone up to 40. For the most part I try and live a normal life, I hike, I travel, I work full time, and I’m about to be back in school. Sometimes I’m so used to coughing and having trouble breathing that I don’t even think about it. But sometimes I do and get upset and depressed about it.
Sometimes I feel like I’m not living enough, especially when I wake up in the morning puking from my coughing, or when I can’t walk long distances anymore and it just reminds me how much worse it’s going to get. Right now my lung function has dropped 15% in 3 months and I Dont know why. I’m not sick, I Dont have an infection, my lungs just hurt all the time and it’s getting worse.
So that’s when it gets hard, and that’s when it starts to hit me. But other than that, I try to stay positive, active, and find happiness in the time I’m given.
1. Every day could be your last.
58 yo man here. Crazy existential questions EVERY DAY.
In college I hardly understood what my English/Philosophy professors were talking about, let alone Herman Hesse.
Yeah, you embrace every day like it is your last. At the same time, I have to act as though I have another 35 years. You never know. Random shit took out my mom (70), my dad (73), and my step dad (69). The man who raised me walked Hiroshima six weeks after The Bomb and lived to 92. His wife lost it to Alzheimer’s…how do you measure THAT passing…the body remains long after the soul has passed?
My point is, I wish I had had the wisdom to embrace life in my TWENTIES. Not sure now much I would have done differently, but I regret I never had the advice or guidance from an elder.
“Youth is wasted on the young.” – George Bernard Shaw
Human beings are really so inspiring and exceptional if given the chance.
How would you live life differently if you knew your days were numbered? Give us your thoughts in the comments!