Nick's Story

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January 29, 2013

I was diagnosed with a glioblastoma in November 2009. As a retired English teacher, I thought writing would be a great way to help both myself and others in dealing with process. If I can help even one person with this list, then my wish will have come true.

1.) Change your point of view. Think of yourself as living with cancer, not dying from it.
2.) Never ask why me.
3.) Have a good sense of humor. If you didn't have one B.C. (before cancer),it's too late to develop one now.
4.) Be lucky enough to have a soul mate who can take the journey with you.
5.) In the constant struggle between quality of life and quantity of life, if given a choice between five more minutes of breathing and a banana split, take the split.
6.) Listen to your body. It will tell you what you can and cannot handle each day. 
7.) Expect to be tired. It is a given. As the journey goes on, the thought of nap time will become more and more inviting, so throw the sheets off and get your butt out of bed, there will be plenty of time for sleeping. Plenty of time. (See advice #10)
8.) Living with cancer is hard. For those who have chosen to walk with us on this difficult journey it is even harder. Never forget that we were drafted into this ever expanding army. Cancer chose us not them. Yet they continue to stand by us. For that we owe them the courtesy of making the hardships we encounter as easy on them as possible.
9.) Keep a positive attitude. Lose the negative. The former is more difficult but is essential for achieving quality of life. The latter takes the easier path but is of no use to anyone.
10.) Read the poem by Robert Frost entitled "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening".
11.) Prepare yourself for an occasional tear or two or three. Yes gentlemen that means you too. They are truly better out than in.
12.) Even cancer has its positive side. You will meet a bunch of wonderful people you would have never met without it. To the nurses aide who sang her gospel songs as she wiped my "skinny ass" in the bathroom of my hospital room, "Thank You". To the wheelchair van driver who hung his miniature Christmas lights from his rear view mirror just to get me into the holiday spirit, "Thank You". To the therapist who coaxed me into performing twenty leg lifts when I would have only preferred ten,"Thank You".
13.) Living with cancer has taught me more about life and my fellow human beings than I would have ever imagined. It truly is never too late to learn.
Lesson #1) Nothing will help you recognize your fair weather friends from the rest than your announcement that you have cancer.
Lesson #2) Though you think the world will stop simply because you have cancer you can be certain that the outside world will continue to spin and at the beginning of each month the 
electric bill will most certainly arrive.
14.) Find yourself a doctor that you can trust. After all they will be literally holding your life in their hands. And never forget that you have an obligation to be a trustworthy patient. If they ask you if you have any questions, speak up. If they offer advice based on their years of experience in dealing with many other cancer patients, listen. If you ask them if they could adjust your medication so that you can enjoy that mustard covered corn dog at the upcoming county fair and their answer is a mischievous wink smile, you picked the right doctor.
15.) When I asked my family doctor if I would know when my time had come, all he said was "trust me you'll know, you'll know". And now when I think back to that answer I realize that all he said, said it all.
16.) Everyone's life needs a purpose, even those lives touched by cancer. So gather about you all the talents and skills you were born with and use them to seek a life useful. I did and it has made a world of difference to me. I call it "Advice For Those Of Us Who Are Living With Cancer". Even cancer patients have something to contribute. Remember it's never too late, never.
17.) As you approach the end of your time here, do not count each of the minutes you have left, instead make each of those minutes count.