A question I am often asked is “what advice would you give to people who don’t have cancer and how they should live their lives?”.
This question always leaves me slightly speechless, because at the end of the day, no one person should ever be telling another person how they should live their life, whether they have terminal cancer or not, just because I’m dying prematurely doesn’t mean I have all the answers, once you’re diagnosed with a terminal disease, you don’t get an email from “God” telling you the elusive answer to that elusive question “what does it all mean? What are we all really here for?” It’s as if once we are diagnosed we become the go to person for all things philosophical, much to my own disappointment I don’t hold the secret to life.
Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE that people come to me for advice and I’m always happy to give someone my two cents worth, I just hope they understand that I don’t hold the panacea to life, I can only give my opinion and my opinion is not necessarily always right or legal for that matter.
Of course I always respond with the generic, live every day as if it’s your last, don’t sweat the small stuff, hug your kids, tell people you love them, don’t put off that trip to that place you’ve always wanted to go to, the usual stuff, the stuff that you already know, you just don’t always get around to doing it, because quite frankly life and living get in the way. These responses are the right ones, the things that we should be doing every day often get pushed aside for the dinging of a phone, it’s that email that just can’t wait until when you get into the office, just like that fax that used to wait in the tray for you until the next business day before email existed. Remember those days? The days before we didn’t have a whole office set up in our pants, our phones are exactly that, a portable office. I honestly wonder how kids get any attention from their parents and how parents get any attention from their kids these days?
Go into any household on any given night of the week and you will find an adult replying to an email on their Samsung Galaxy, another adult playing words with friends on their iPhone, a kid feeding their virtual pet on their iPad and another kid upstairs with their headset on communicating in some foreign techno language to a kid on the other side of the world on their Xbox, now this I can honestly say, is not living, it is not using life to its fullest potential, but we are all guilty of it. Put your hand up if you have been to a movie recently and been able to not look at your phone at least once during the duration of the film. I know I can’t and I’m bloody well dying!
A year ago I would have said I would be the last person you would ask for advice on how to live your life, I lived someone else’s life for over a decade, I put my life on the back burner and this isn’t unusual, so many of us get into relationships and lose ourselves to the other person, which is totally acceptable, it’s just “how much” of ourselves that we lose to the other person that matters. So what if you used to be a Broncos supporter and when you started dating your new boyfriend you defected to the Cowboys, this is normal and it’s a small insignificant life change, it’s not like you’ve disowned your first-born for him, but what’s not ok is when your partner starts dictating to you who you can and can’t hang out with, when they start to tell you what to wear, now I don’t mean if they suggest that you maybe wear the blue top because it brings out your eyes, I’m talking about when they start to tell you that you look like a street-walker in every second outfit that you put on and demand that you change into an outfit of their choice, it’s ok when he/she asks you to not go out with your friends because they’ve had a shit day at work and would just love to have a night in with their partner eating pizza and drinking a nice wine, what’s not ok is when he/she starts making excuses for you to stay home every time you are meant to be having a night out without them and it’s even ok when your partner gets a bit of the green-eyed monster with your new hot co-worker that keeps asking you to stay back late to do stocktake (I mean there are only so many times you can count your printer cartridge supply), what’s not ok is when your partner starts ringing and texting you obsessively throughout the workday and sneakily checking your call register and text messages on your phone and accusing you of sleeping with your co-worker, even though your entire life consists of going to work, going home to him/her and spending every other waking hour with your partner. Of course hindsight is 20/20 and I can now say that I would never put myself in that predicament again. I suppose that’s why I am a good person to give advice about how to embrace life, because for so long I didn’t have one and now that I do, even though I’m dying, I can say one thing for certain and that’s to keep those who build you up around you and get rid of those who knock you down, because at the end of the day, they are like cancers in your life, unless you cut them out, life cannot get better.
So what is the actual advice that I give when I’m asked this question? It’s pretty much what I mentioned above, life is to be lived, each day is a gift, not an entitlement, so live it like it’s your last, try to laugh at least once a day, hug someone every day, tell someone you love them every day, tell yourself you love yourself every day, blast that idiot who repeatedly leaves the empty milk bottle in the office fridge at work and isn’t it funny that it’s the same idiot who doesn’t refill the paper tray in the photocopier? Make sure you publicly blast them for that one too, get up early one day and watch the sunrise, get home early from work one day and watch the sunset, embrace the amazingness that is the night sky, the twinkling stars, the waning moon, the constellations and the occasional shooting star, don’t let that person slide in front of you in the self-serve line at Woolworth’s, it’s bad enough that you have to serve yourself, nevermind letting some sneaky shithead jump the queue, pull them up on it and make them go to the end of the queue just like the rest of us normal human beings have to, embrace every day like there is nO, because that is one thing we are never promised, whether you are terminally ill or not, that we will wake up in the morning or make it to bed that night, we will all come to the same end at some point, so make the bits in between worth it.
Stay fabulous rockstars.