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Terminal Illness Living With My Death How I do It

Updated on December 30, 2009

Would you want to know if you had a terminal illness?

Would you want to know how long you had to live?

What, you don't want to think about that? You plan on living for ever? The truth is we are all susceptible to having a tragic illness hit us at any time. How would you handle it? There really is no one right answer that covers everybody. It's too personal, too private, too emotional and very individual. So what does this have to do with anything? Why would somebody write about something so taboo? Surely I must know nobody wants to think of their own immortality. Well, I'm not sure why I am writing this, I just felt I had to. Maybe it might help somebody who's struggling with dying so they won't feel alone or think that nobody could possibly understand. Well I DO understand, because.... I'm dying.

Yes me. one of the ones who thought it couldn't happen to me. Of course we are all dying from the time we are born, it's called natural aging but this is different. This is the dying that comes from something attacking a part of our bodies that is essential for survival.

So you want to know how I'm handling it.....

 Well everyday is different I guess. It's very humbling and hard to explain actually. The day I got the news I was in the hospital on oxygen. Had been for a week. I guess I already knew deep down but God gave me peace and a calmness about it. Some days I have to remind myself that it's real by thinking... "I have a terminal illness, there's no cure, I'm slowly dying each day and there's nothing I can do to stop it".

That I suppose is my way of putting things into perspective but most days I try not to think about it. Maybe that's my form of denial. I wasn't given a time limit with my diagnosis. Under the right conditions I could die in a week, a month or maybe not for another 20 years from now. Everyday it hangs over my head so yes I am forced to think about making funeral arrangements, getting things in order so to speak. I truly hadn't thought much about that stuff because I was going live to be a ripe old age. I may still, if Gods willing, but right now is now and you deal with it the best you can. I take each day at a time and try to enjoy it and thank God each morning I wake up. Knowing something is killing a part of you and it can't be stopped by human hands or technology, well, you kind of have to take notice at some point and face reality. It's not easy.

 Do I cry much?

I have always had to be the strong one as a single mom but you know what, some days I'm just not strong even as a Christian so sure there were a couple times I went to the pity bank and drew out a few boo hoos for myself, there might even be more days to come but you know what, it's normal, like I said everyday and everybody is different. Let yourself "feel" what's happening if you want to. It's okay. It's human. There are times I think about my life and what I could have done differently but I suggest you don't do that. I can't change a darn thing and you can't either it only causes depression and guilt. Don't dwell on the things you didn't do before but enjoy what you do now.

Am I feeling sorry for myself?

No, but I do get frustrated at being only 47 when I can't go out on a sunny day and ride my bike or walk very far. I even have to be very careful of crowds and bad weather so I don't catch anything that might turn into pneumonia. I struggle to mow my yard which I suppose I'll continue to do it even if it kills me, (No pun intended, you have to realize I have a warped sense of humor). I'll do it because I love it and simply, because I'm stubborn. My having a good relationship with God has helped and given me the ability to know Him and understand all things work for good through Him so I try not to focus on what I can't do anymore and look at what I can do now.

Sometimes I feel He's given me a gift, sent me on an adventure even. The opportunity to,"stop and smell the roses" or "coffee", as some would have it. As I've said, I may not be able to do all the things I enjoyed and loved before but the need for rest gives me more time to sit with my youngest and really talk with him, more time to read some of my favorite books, more time to take notice of the simple things I'd been missing. I want to see everything. I'm not talking about traveling I'm talking about really "seeing" what's right in front of my nose. The silkiness of a flower petal. How many trips the robin makes back and forth to make a nest for her babies in my cedar tree, watching the leaves not fall, but dance to the ground as they leave the branches.

My faith has also given me the ability to trust God completely and see this as an opportunity to grow and become an even better person. Maybe even be a help to someone else. After all nobody can truly understand what someone is going through unless they've been there themselves. As a Christian I have found it's a great blessing to be used of God to help another no matter how He uses us but....and there almost always is a but.... I still like it here and want to stay for awhile. Dying can be scary, yes even for a Christian strong in their faith. It's said we all want to go to heaven but we don't want to die to get there. It's true. We all kind of like living don't we and even though our lives aren't perfect before they are still ours.

Would it be better to know how much time you have left?

For me personally that answer would be no. I hate schedules. I don't like deadlines. (Sorry, there's that warped sense of humor again). Knowing it's coming is enough for me. I can do what I have to do but do it my way. It gives me a sense of some kind of "control" over a life of which I ultimately have no control. Another type of Denial? Maybe. I'm no expert. I've never done this before. I don't know how YOU should handle a situation like this. All I can do is tell you how I'm doing it and hope in some way this helped somebody. Your circumstances may be different as all are but try to remember that even though you may have a terminal illness, your life doesn't always have to stop with the news of it. Cry, throw things, get mad do whatever will make you feel better emotionally so you can truly start living....the rest of your life.


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    • profile image


      5 years ago

      Thank you, AnythingArtzy, for this post. I feel like I wrote it, from the quirky humor down to saying I could die in a week, a month, or maybe not for another 20 years from now. I'm41 and my husband and I just got married for the first time a few months ago. I thought that my breathlessness was due to stress from the wedding, but found out 2 weeks ago that it's fatal. I can no longer tell if the hurt in my heart is related to my actual illness or my despair. Most days, I walk around like nothing is happening, my husband is in denial and won't even discuss it with me. With drugs, I feel fine ... for now. I can't tell my elderly parents, who I feel would die of a heart attack with the news that I might kick the bucket before them. Both my siblings are older than me and I fear that might happen to them too.. but, even if it's not paranoia for them, I don't want to walk around having everyone look at me like a ticking time bomb and others whispering, "oh there she is, do you know she's dying!" I'm trying to be pragmatic.. searching online what I should consider (I can't believe WebMD has a section on tips on how to face impending death). I've been copying segments of different sites; this is obvious, but it helps to focus even as a mantra:

      · Taking one day at a time and focusing on the present

      · Realizing there will be good days and bad days

      · Trying to maintain a sense of normality and routine

      · Avoiding anticipating bad things that may (or may not ever) happen

      · Doing things you enjoy; don’t just focus on dying

      · Remembering that life doesn’t stop if you get a terminal diagnosis

      For those in similar circumstance reading these posts, please post your own experiences... it helps me (and most likely others) feel less alone.

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      Hey guys just wanted to tell you all about my new blog, its all about how to make money fast, so if you have 2 minuites have a quick read and tell me what you think. blog link

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      Anything Artzy, I just found this..I have never used HubPages..I was researching an illness I was just told that I have. It's all new, I just found out 2 days ago. I wish I could communicate with you. I feel like I could draw from your strength. Curious to see if it's the same condition. There isn't much imformation to be found, and had never heard of it until a few days ago. I'm really shaken, I too am a mom of two children. The youngest is 9, oldest is 19. My children depend on me! I feel so hopeless, I have lived a VERY clean life. no drinking, drugs etc. I don't understand why ot how this is happening to my children and myself! My parents are both 71 and in great shape. They have minor problems and are slowing dowm some. They too depend on me for their future care. I really need some support right now, and of all the things I have read you seem to help more than anything. I debated on sending this, but as the day has passed I find myself hoping to contact you. Please find the time to talk with me. Thank you.

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      When i helpful to acquire on top of lifestyle but these days We have built up the weight.

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      I helpful to receive on top of living yet lately I've truly piled up a resistance.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Dear All,

      I'm currently developing a documentary for a US network about individuals with a terminal illness.

      The documentary will address the hopes, fears, challenges and aspirations faced by individuals of all ages throughout the United States .

      I am in the process of reaching out to people who might be interested in being part of the project.

      If you are interested in finding out more on what would be a self-shot documentary, please get in touch with Alice at:

      Many thanks,


    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Dear AnythingArtzy are U ok now. how is your health ?

    • azdebb56 profile image


      6 years ago

      Thank you for the words you speak. I was just recently given a diagnosis which gives me about 2 years of life on earth left. I am all alone in Arizona, with a mess of problems to face everyday, besides the thought of the two years in the back of my mind every minute. It has made it hard to live everyday to its fullest and enjoy the time I have left. Was just good to hear there are so many of us out here, just wish I was not so alone here where I sit. Thanks You Debb

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      I don't feel angry about my diagnosis, just really disappointed, because I wanted to live to be 85 at least. Oh well, Plan B. I'm currently 58, and hopefully I'll see 60 but then I remember what wonderful experiences I have had on this planet, the birth of my children being the most important; and therefore, I need to remember the millions of people who have existed who have never lived to 58 and I become eternally grateful to God that I have had those incredible gifts. Yes, I still want more but I need to fully appreciate what I have. And yes, I do get tearful but it usually involves touching, sweet things like family at Christmas and the bravery of so many. I will miss the faces of my children, the sun and sky, life is good every single moment.

    • mariefontaine profile image


      7 years ago from Indianapolis, Indiana

      You live your life very similar to the way I live mine... one day at a time and with as much joy packed into each day as possible... may I ask what type of disease you have? Not going out on a sunny day, being immuno-deficient... sounds similar to what i have.

    • profile image

      John Ellis 

      7 years ago

      Sorry to read of these terminal illness stories.

      I was given the all clear from cancer for 2 years before being given 3 months to live right out of the blue.

      I have no faith in god so there's no solace there.

      My family just seem to want to see the back of me and tell me I'm being selfish for not behaving perfectly normally at all times.

      I am 58 years old and spent the past 10 years looking after my parents (with the help of my wife). They died aged 92 and 102.

      I cannot seem to come to terms with the fact that I am dying and there's nothing that can be done.

      What should I do?

    • matilda.mentions profile image


      7 years ago

      Your hub was so touching, and hits so close to home. My mother who is 46 years old, was diagnosed with a terminal illness almost a year ago, and things are starting to wind up now. I can't begin to imagine what she or you are going through. It upsets me so much to think of how scared she must be. I am the eldest of 6 children and am so scared at the thought of having to look after my 5 younger siblings and I know the reason Mum has fought for so long has been for us. Especially my 11 year old brother. Thank you for sharing your experience, its nice to know other people understand.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Do you ever find yourself wanting to do something or try something new, but not know whther you have enough time?

      How do you handle the uncertainty...Is there a difference between your intellectual acceptance and your emotional acceptance?

    • AnythingArtzy profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from OHIO

      I'm sorry to hear you are facing a terminal illness too. I do believe there is a reason to allof this and it will help others to deal wit it. I'll certainly look at your hubs. thanks so much for the comment.

    • days leaper profile image

      days leaper 

      8 years ago from england

      I thought cheese was carsogenic... Anyway my dear old Granny used to say "A little bit of what you like does you good!" It worked with chips when I was off school with flu or stomach upset etc.

      OK. Very moving blog. I am facing similar, being slowly warn out by treatment meant to give me longer. I don't advertise my blogs but offer the address to those who catch my eye. Look up days leaper if you wish. Either way I hope you find all that you seek and make sense/find your purpose in this world that The Boss, Maker, Devine Creator etc. kindly gave us. I believe we are here to learn. I'm learning I'd be annoyed if doctors tried forcing me on with a life if it became pointless just because it doesn't fit with their precious code of practice!

      Anyway, Thanks again, and best wishes...

    • AnythingArtzy profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from OHIO

      clearsky thank you for your post. Although it's isn't cancer that's killing me it sure can't hurt to try this, besides cottage cheese is one of my favorite foods. Haven't tried flax seeds but will now. Thanks so much.

    • AnythingArtzy profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from OHIO

      Thank You HC for your kind words. My strength comes soley from the Lord. I'm sure I'd be a basket case without Him lol lol . I just hope that this will help others like you said. That was my sole purpose in writing this. God Bless

    • H.C Porter profile image


      8 years ago from Lone Star State

      I love the line, "We all want to go to heaven, but dont want to die to get there"-Very nicely put. You have given some very sound advice-not just for the ones who are suffering from a terminal illness-but to everyone who is not living their life to the fullest. We dont know how long we have-tomorrow is no guarantee to a single soul on this planet- we may never get a second chance to say I am sorry or do something that makes us happy.

      You are a very strong woman-and I enjoy your writing, bravo on such an uplifting piece on a topic that is feared.


    • profile image


      8 years ago from Kentucky

      There are alternative therapies, one of them is the Budwig diet.

      I told someone who's sister had cancer about the Budwig diet, he said she has improved. Supposedly her case was terminal, he isn't 100% sure if the diet by itself cured her...but he believes it might have helped.

      So I thought I would mention it here, maybe it might or might not help. Budwig diet is not complicated or expensive, just cottage cheese and Flax seed oil. If you are terminal, its worth a shot.

      I had testicular cancer some 13 years ago, I went through chemo in four cycles in the hospital. The experience wasn't pleasant but bearable. I did have a lot a people praying for me and that helped a lot.

      You are not alone and there are others who are facing the exact same thing you are. You might want to sign up on some cancer boards and share your stories with others and help and support each other.

    • AnythingArtzy profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from OHIO

      thank you Mikel for the beautiful comment.

      I always thought I would like to just drop dead someplace without pain, fear or anything but now that I know what's killing me. It's not as hard to deal with as I thought it might. Actually I have grown stronger in a lot of areas.

    • Mikel G Roberts profile image

      Mikel G Roberts 

      8 years ago from The Heartland

      The hardest part for me would be knowing that I would soon be unable to protect my kids. I have never had a fear of death. I have rationalized that it is simply one of the necessary steps in my souls evolution. It is a step that is a little bit scary, because it is such a big step. One that is very much a permanent change, irreversible...

      It is also one that we all must face.

      I don't think I'd want to know, I prefer to just go when my time comes. If I did know, I would do pretty much what you are doing... Living, loving and observing all that I can.

      When that day comes, know that you will be missed here.

      Peace and Love, Mikel

    • rmcrayne profile image


      8 years ago from San Antonio Texas

      I have it on my Apricot Soap/Breast Cancer hub, but you can find it pretty easily on YouTube. Try a combination of So You Think You Can Dance, SYTYCD, Ade and Melissa, Breast Cancer, Tyce DiOrio. It's a beautiful piece. The judges were all very emotional.

    • AnythingArtzy profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from OHIO

      Thank you.

      and no I haven't but will definitely. thanks again.

    • rmcrayne profile image


      8 years ago from San Antonio Texas

      Brenda I saw your forum post and decided to check you out. This is an absolutely marvelous piece. Have you seen Tyce DiOrio's piece on breast cancer on So You Think You Can Dance? It shows an array of emotions, beautifully IMO.

    • BEAUTYBABE profile image


      8 years ago from QUEENSLAND AUSTRALIA.

      Hello Anything,

      I had a cry when I read your hub after reading your comment when you read mine. I must admit that you and I both know what it is like to live like this.Dying from a terminal illness and not knowing what each day is going to bring. However, I have found that when I joined Hubs it was the best thing I could ever have done. I have starting to write poetry and have found that this has given me back a purpose in my life again. Since I can't sing and dance on the stage anymore, I feel that things happen for a reason and when a door closes a window opens somewhere else. The poetry has been my window to a new beginning. I have felt so much more alive more than I have in a long time, since starting hubs. You sound like a very positive person, and you would have to be being a single mum. Someone once said to me God would not give us these illnesses if he did not think we could handle it, that is true to a point I suppose. I have decided to live each day one at a time and to the fullest as much as I can without thinking about dying. I have my husband and we are celebrating 20 years of marriage in March, I still can't believe we got this far, since I spent more of those years in hospital than in our own home.

      I will be thinking of you and will be keeping you in my thoughts and prayers. If you need to chat, please feel free to do so anytime okay, love BB

    • AnythingArtzy profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from OHIO

      Thank you Ben for your kind words.

      Yes the outdoors is so full of wonder sometimes we just take it for granted.

    • Ben Zoltak profile image

      Ben Zoltak 

      8 years ago from Lake Mills, Jefferson County, Wisconsin USA

      AnythingArtzy you have a strong and resilient attitude and that is what will carry you through. It sounds to me like getting outdoors is what cheers you the most, I would try to find other ways (where you are less prone to illness) to get outside if at all possible. Keep your chin up!


    • AnythingArtzy profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from OHIO

      Thank you for your lovely words but I must give credit where credit is due. God has given me the strength and courage and peace to accept and trust so I can concentrate on the now and let Him worry about the rest.

      You are a blessing to me too.

    • uliveulearn profile image


      9 years ago from Canada

      You are a true gift. Your attitude to live in a positive way and enjoy the true simple blessings of each day are a gift you give without even knowing it. If you don't mind, I am going to add this link to my hub "How to deal with death and dying by living happily". One thing I have learned is that none of us really know how long we have. This tactile life can be over tomorrow but I believe our inner selves are everlasting. I wish you much joy and beauty in every moment.

    • AnythingArtzy profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from OHIO

      Thank you. I did check out the site and plan to go back there is a lot of interesting stuff there. Thanks again.

    • riverwrites profile image


      9 years ago from Indiana - USA

      This is very moving and very inspirational. You might be interested in Patty Digh's blog 37 Days - it began with a similar question. Here's the link:


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