What If I Die

I’ve been having these really weird (to me) conversations with people since my conventional treatment for cancer ended.


They say: OMG! Woo Hoo! It's over! You look so good, I bet you’re SO happy to have this over with!

And when they say that, I feel like I need to match their excitement for the end of my treatment. I’ve even stopped and stared, and thought to myself – should I be happier than I am? Sometimes I do match it and say – oh yeah I’m SO good! I’m feeling great most of the time, I’m back riding and working part time, bla bla bla.


To others, sometimes I snap. On the inside. I do manage to keep my inside voice to myself, but on the outside I downplay being done treatment. Because my truth is, I’ll never actually be done having had cancer.


When I’m in this space, what I really want to say is “you know, just because I’m done treatment, doesn’t mean this is over right?” Yikes Adelle. Aggressive. I suddenly also feel defensive, and want to talk about all the things I am doing that really doesn’t feel like anything is “over.” So I talk about spending two afternoons a week hooked up to an IV vitamin drip, the 32 pills a day I take, going to pelvic floor physiotherapy, osteopathy, lymphatic drainage massage, acupuncture, energy healing, like it’s a job.


Why. So. Defensive.


What really is my job is to lean in to my feelings here.


These feelings of my peeves being petted, isn’t the root cause of my irritation.


#saywhat


I have to feel the feel. I teach and preach this in my mental health seminars. I know I need to give space between the stimulus and response – to honor what is really there for me.


So Adelle. What’s there?


Fear.


It isn’t at all about the person who’s so kind and excited that I’m done my conventional treatment, most of them probably haven’t even had cancer. They don’t know what it feels like to have finished treatment but know that doesn’t mean you’re cured. You don’t know what you don’t know, and me being mad at them is a projection of what I’m not facing within myself.


For the most part, of most days, I truly am doing pretty fucking fantastic. I’m happy, grateful, getting stronger, feel great, am back to some normalcy, and more than normalcy, I’m stepping up my game. I’m writing a book, putting myself out there, spreading love, advocating…


But. For some parts, of some days, I have moments of paralyzing terror. Usually it’s while doing something that I love, like riding my horse down the road, with the birds chirping, the sun rising, those moments of absolute peace… that the sneaky thought comes in and says “what if this is the last two months you have to do this. What if you die.”


This is what triggers me when people are so excited that I’m done treatment. My fear speaks up and reminds me I might still die. I mean, we all will die, but like. Sooner than I want.

My next scan is in two months. And then I’ll have another scan after that, and another scan after that. Each scan will confirm if I remain disease free, or if it’s come back. It would be pretty easy to live pessimistically scan to scan.


The fear wants to paralyze me, protect me, keep me “safe” and warm. AKA: stop my living. “You better not enjoy life too much, it could all be taken away in an instant. Best to just sit back, not love things so much, so hard. Because if you just settle down with the greatness baloney now, if this does go south – the life you’re leaving wouldn’t have been that great anyway if you take it down a notch. Heaven is probably better than Netflix anyway.”


You might not understand this feeling unless you’ve been faced with death by a slow silent illness. But my goal in sharing my soul is to help the world be able to empathize just a little bit more.


So, I do know this. I do know this is my fear talking. And for the most part I am able to tell it to shut the fuck up and keep on with my trail ride. But I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t still there.

This week, I went to see my acupuncturist/energy healer. It’s the first time I’ve seen him since I was going through conventional treatment. He’s one of the greatest people on my health team and just being around his vibe is a nurturing experience.


Anyway, so we got to catching up about life post treatment and “how I’m doing.” And I tell him my truth, about how I am doing well, but how hard it is for me at times when the thought crosses my mind, will this be my last ride? My last walk with the dogs? My last dinner with friends? My last sunset? My last drive with the sunroof open?


I continue and tell him I do my very very best (but it’s so hard) to change the spin on these feelings when they rise, to feelings of gratitude for each and every opportunity to do them, regardless of whether it’s the last, or I have a thousand left to come.


And he smiles, and says: “Well isn’t that how we all should live?


Whoa grasshopper.


He continued to say, “not in a reckless abandon kind of way, but in terms of living your truth, in the present, in the embodiment of gratefulness. This all, any day, could be any one of our last days.” And went on to share his experience with near death. He gets it, like gets it gets it, because he’s lived through it too.


When I watch the news (which I do not do often), I hear too often of other people who don’t get a second chance at life like we did. Their life gets taken in an instant in an accident, an attack, an overdose, and they don’t get the chance to choose again. My heart aches when I hear those stories, and then I think to myself, even though I had cancer - I don’t have it all that bad. Even if I have 5 months, 5 years, or 50 (#goals) – I want to do all I can every day to focus on my second chance at life, not my second chance at death. And hearing those stories really makes me focus on being grateful I have this second chance to choose again.


We need more of us to share these stories. Stories are a lost art. They are more powerful than anything any of us will learn out of a textbook or a classroom. I am not sharing my story out of pity, I am sharing this out of a plea. I sit back and watch so many people, just living an ok life on the outer edge of potential tragedy and I say in my head every day – “don’t let it come to tragedy before you change. Live. Live every day. You have the power to live your best life without almost dying first.”


I don’t understand why they don’t hear my story and change. But maybe we just need more people telling stories. Maybe that’s why I’m here, doing my thing – speaking my stories, even though I might still die. Maybe if I can get enough of them out of me I can spark and inspire even just one person to radically embrace this human experience and live the hell out of it even more than they already are. And maybe once they start doing that, they will tell their story too – so we can begin to truly leave legacy, and really change the world. I, like us all, will one day die. But I hope to "skid in to death sideways, totally worn out, saying holy shit- what a ride!"


About the Author:


Adelle is currently writing her first book, outlining her journey through life, lessons, and most recently - her battle with cancer. She is a sugar-addict turned health-freak, avid hiker, horseback rider, and holistic healthcare advocate. Sign up for our newsletter to follow along with her journey and be the first to know when her memoir is available!

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