Cancer sucks. Royally. It's a killer that slowly saps life from people we love. Sometimes, the cancer goes away and we get to keep our people. Other times, the cancer has already won by the time we meet it.
It's 2017 and we have insane life-extending medical care and technology. There is almost always another treatment option we can try to save our lives. But when do we say, 'that's enough?' When faced with a chance at living longer by trying another procedure in the hospital or a guarantee of living shorter at your home or, say, at the Grand Canyon -- which do you choose, and when? When terminal illness isn't for sure terminal, how do you handle what might be the end of your days (or what might not be?)?
You are in control of your life and how you choose to live until you die.
Often we - and our families - take a tunnel vision approach to disease: do whatever we have to do to fix it. But treatment is almost always painful and uncomfortable. So quality of life is sacrificed for quantity of life. And for many, that is more than a fair trade. But as a patient, you and only you know, or even have a hunch, that it's time to step out of the medical sprint away from death and ease toward it with comfort and grace, or maybe even adventure.
91-year old Norma was faced with surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation to *hopefully* cure her uterine mass. Instead, she chose to live her last days on an incredible adventure, traveling around the country with her adult kids and dog in an RV. What a badass, right?
I think the most badass part of this story is that Norma had the wisdom and chutzpah to recognize that her life was ending, and chose her own adventure for her last days. She chose quality of life over quantity.
Make no mistake - living like you might die tomorrow when you are healthy, and living like you might die tomorrow when you're sick are very different. To be sure, a choice like Norma's to forego treatment at 91 years old is different from facing death at say, 25. At any age and with any choice, disease, for all it takes away, makes courageous heroes.
In the face of real scarcity of life it's human nature for us - and the families that surround us - to cling to life, claw for it, like a cat slipping down the drapes. This is why to choose quality of life over quantity is valiant -- and a huge gamble. Maybe the treatment would have worked, right?
But cancer notwithstanding, we will all die. What's important here is remembering our free will, and realizing we are in control of how we live and, in the case of terminal illness, how we die. It's about listening to our body and soul to decide whether choosing to live means, to you, another round of potentially life-extending treatment, or going home to hold your grandchild in your lap a little while longer. In either option, you are courageous; you choose to live.