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Becoming Terminal: A Life-Changing Diagnosis

You were sitting there—feeling more alive than ever.

The beat of your heart pulsating so hard you are certain everyone else can hear the whimsical thumps.

People are running, papers shuffling and machines beeping incessantly as everyone tries to manage their own patient.

What were you doing there?

For a moment you find it necessary to stand up and leave—because you don’t belong there.

But then a voice interrupts your muffled mind and you look up to see a man, dressed in a white coat, speckled gray hair and an eerie, but calming tone say he would like to go over your results.


What am I a result of?

“Ma’am, can you hear me,” he says and my gaze is directed towards his perfectly sympathetic eyes.

My focus is finally clear and I sit for the next two hours discussing my results—my options—my life.

I have terminal cancer.

Terminal disregards options. It disregards hope. It disregards any possibility of longevity. The instant that word was used I lost everything.

It was as if my life was stolen like a bag of potato chips from the convenience store down the street. Everyone kept moving, the papers kept being filed and the machines performed their due diligence. I was now defined by something I couldn’t negotiate or control. From that moment forward I was defined by “terminal.”

I quickly learned that while everyone around me was hopeful—or pretended to be, I went about my days detached and numb. I wanted my life to be over the moment I was given the diagnosis; as I only saw the coming days as torture.

Would I die on a Tuesday?

Would it be raining?

How many people would attend my funeral?

The questions raced through my head as my loved ones tried booking vacations or taking me to the most expensive restaurants in town. I had no will to live and begged for the end to come with compassion.

Instead, I surpassed what the doctors predicted. Three months quickly turned to five months and then to a year. My “terminal” cancer was being managed and I was being given more time. During this “extended period of time” I slowly, yet cautiously allowed myself to smile and enjoy the little things. I began to open up more and let my loved ones back in. I had the energy to make plans and follow through with them instead of wallow in my own pity. I think it was around the 1.5 year mark when I recognized my will to live was stronger than before I was ever diagnosed. And although the doctors were wary of how long I truly “had left”, I made the decision to not be defined by the uncontrollable demon of cancer. If I was going to die—I wanted to die knowing that I did everything I could to have one more minute, hour and day with those I loved. I stopped letting the inevitable chapter of my life define who I was. Instead, I took control of the things I could and stopped looking at the clock.

I may have terminal cancer but I believe I am here for a reason. Until then I am going to let the clock keep ticking for as long as it allows.

Article Submitted by:

Tim and Alison Dinan, Owners

Cook Family Funeral Home, Cremation Service, and Hillcrest Cemetery



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