I’m not dead yet…

…but it probably won’t be very long. You know, reality can be a tough pill to swallow some days. You want things to go one way; life seems to be pushing you in another direction.

This is what happened to me this week. Both of my oncologists have confirmed that there is nothing really more to do. The cancer is taking over this tired old body. The chemo (Gemzar) isn’t really working, and there aren’t any more systemic options that don’t process through the liver. My liver is full of mets–both microscopic and significant. We thought about seeing a gastroenterologist, but the chances of a stent in one or more of the larger lesions bringing long term hope and correction is nil. It’s more likely to cause an infection. It looks like the cancer is spreading to my cerebellum, and there are more bone mets than before. It was a truly depressing PET/CT scan, but it told the truth. My body is dying, even through my heart and mind feel more alive than ever before.

Oh yes, my friends, I’m still praying for a miracle, and I will right up to my last breath, and I ask you to join me in this prayer. I’m also asking for prayers for peace, strength, and courage to face whatever lies ahead. We just never know.

Image: “Last Will & Testament,” Ken Mayer, Creative Commons LIcense

What I’ve learned so far this week from my teacher cancer:

  1. Be prepared. Have your will, healthcare power of attorney (or Five Wishes) and POA updated BEFORE you really need it.
  2. Make decisions about what you want done with your body and do whatever is necessary to ensure those decisions are carried out. We’ve had to scramble a little bit because of Maryland’s way of handling body donations to science.
  3. Make sure you’ve handled things like getting a handicapped hang tag for for your car before you really need it.
  4. Don’t wait to call Hospice until it’s too late for them to make a difference.
  5. Do talk honestly and openly to your loved ones about what is happening, how you are feeling, and what they are feeling.
  6. People will want to help, but they will often be anxious and afraid to ask you what you need. If you need meal help, ask for a meal train to deliver meals that can be frozen and reheated. Don’t be afraid to tell them what you can and can’t eat.
  7. Friends and family will want to see you, and you will want to see them. Be realistic about what you can and cannot do. Avoid completely tiring yourself out with visitors. Consider FaceTime and Zoom as options.

Above all, don’t let cancer or whatever illness you have steal your joy. Avoid worry. Treasure each day, and love like there’s no tomorrow (because there may not be). Know how deeply you are loved by your Creator and by friends and family. Sure, your favorite people may act a little squirrely and uncomfortable because we don’t do death and dying well in our culture. But draw them in and keep them close, even if it feels awkward.

Finally, don’t pull away from my journey just because it feels like I won’t “win” the battle. Let me show you what it’s like to lean into the Creator of the Cosmos and die to self and this life. Let’s walk as love in action to the next phase of reality. I promise to be honest and straightforward, and I will answer your questions. Your support in walking with me means the world. Thank you.