Hey, I'm sorry that your cancer is terminal - I just wanted to say a few things about that: 1) I was given six months to live (more than 3 years ago). Although I had a chance at curative treatment, knowing that your expiry date is looming is a horrible thing to deal with. I recognise that. 2) BUT … you're still alive. Still viable. We all have to die. Unless you're Dracula or a comic book superhero, we all die and there's no coming back (that I know of). But you're not dead yet. A few houses down from you there's probably a child living a happy, delighted life, untainted by the fear of death .. and yet they are doomed to die tomorrow. It's tragic, a kick in the guts thing - but it's just how the system works. It's inescapable and often unfair. 3) Therefore - the real kick in the guts regarding death, impending or unknown, is .. like many things .. the FEAR of it. I think for the most part people innately fear change - and there isn't much bigger change that dying. The problem with fear is it contaminates all the GOOD stuff. The way modern society is reacting to coronavirus is a good example of that .. I think events are largely coloured by our modern obsession with self & drama, and a heavy dose of fear. I think the paramount thing is to not allow the fear that comes hand-in-hand with cancer and death to rob you of all of the remaining smiles and delight that is available to you. 4) Even though your cancer may be terminal, I think the opposite of fear is hope - and I personally would try to find & hang onto some of that until the last possible moment. Science, treatment methodologies - it's all in a state of flux. I've mentioned before a relation who did wind up dying of cancer, but he was in palliative care and had weeks to live. They randomly offered him a new immunotherapy trial and it extended his life by about 5 years. Five weeks to five years is pretty good, I reckon. Anyway, as long as we are still alive, we don't know precisely when we will die. Even as pain and fear weave themselves into our lives, we still have tools to try and fight back. Even if we don't completely succeed, even the small wins reward us with some kind of quality of life result. So yeah, mindset is (just in my opinion) important, you can flag your facebook status as "I'm going to die soon", or you could do it as "I'm not dead yet". I think the latter is much better. 5) Mate, when you do pass, I'd ask you to consider setting your frame of mind as this: it's the only true human adventure. The only true and absolute unknown. We don't know what's going to happen, and we all get to find out. No reason to hasten it, that's stupid. But when it happens, that's the back-handed gift of it .. no matter what faith a person has, nobody truly knows the deal. Anybody who says they do is lying (to themselves at least). As equally possible as heaven, hell or nothing, is that you gasp and wake up coming out of the Matrix, surrounded by machines. I know it's probably shit advice, but if there's any way to transform the posture from anxiety to adventure, it might help with squeezing all available fun, joy and love from the rest of your life. The anxiety shit tries to steal all that stuff. It tries to corrupt the life & possible happiness that remains available to you. 6) Now this is just a personal quirk, but if you haven't already, it's worth thinking of any little leave behinds you could do. For me, I'd want to do funny stuff - record little messages for people I care about that might initially help with their grief, and later make them smile in memory. A terminal prognosis is a really shit show, no doubt - but it also means that we can prepare ourselves and the people around us a bit .. I'd probably even have a crack at curating my own funeral. Sing an awful karaoke version of some wildly inappropriate song for them to play while people walk in. Dunno. I just think it can be as bad or even worse for the people in our lives, so it's nice to wind them into the equation as much as possible. It's also a great distraction. But yeah, you're not done yet. We're connecting here, right ? You're a viable, important passenger on Spaceship Earth. Good luck with everything - take my remarks with a grain of salt if any of it is annoying or distressing - but if there's anything in there that is of benefit, take it and run with it, with my blessing. All the best, amigo.
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" ( it took 6 weeks to grow to over 4cm big ) . " I wouldn't take that as a hard and fast fact - the cancer could have been bubbling away for a while before it started to become large enough or cause noticable side effects like lymph node swelling. To assume 6 weeks ago he was cancer free, and now he has a large mouth tumour ... it may not be sound. I'm not saying you're wrong, just saying that the medical team is a lot more experienced with the trajectory of head and neck cancers than we are, and if you've explained your concern to them and they've said not to worry .. you need to consider the possibility that the issue here is managing anxiety, rather than making improvements on a treatment plan. My delay between diagnosis and treatment was 6 weeks - and I was told I have about 6 months to live without successful treatment. The logic is simple: huh ? 6 months to live ... that's 24 weeks, are you telling me I have to waste 1/4 of my allotted lifespan waiting for treatment ??? Extrapolating, surely that means in the 6 weeks my cancer will grow significantly, and maybe spread / metastasize. The fact is, there's preparation that needs to be done, and these cancers grow on a pretty known trajectory. My cancer was later stage than your dad's, and I'm still here. I'm not telling you what to do or think, just trying to add context. As I understand it, chemoradiation will either work or it won't. 4-6 weeks between diagnosis and treatment is very normal, and head & neck cancers don't suddenly kill you like blood cancers, breast cancers and certain other types can .. in that regard they're more like bowel cancers .. the kind that just sorta creep up on you. Only issue is placement and size - if that causes issues like obstructing airways .. otherwise if your doctors are comfortable with a wait before the chemoradiation starts, I'd be comfortable too, and I'd use that time to enjoy the remaining meals I can enjoy (he will lose his sense of taste), and spend a lot of time with my family (the daily hospital visits will turn him into a zombie). Personally, I wouldn't be worried. I'd articulate the concern to the doctors and heed their response, and outside of that, just manage my distress and try and build some hope and momentum, as the treatment phase will get pretty yucky.
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Cancer Council NSW would like to acknowledge the traditional custodians of the land on which we live and work.We would also like to pay respect to elders past and present and extend that respect to all other Aboriginal people.