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Being and Nothingness


mainecoon

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My wife has recently been diagnosed with extensive SCLC. I say extensive, because there is pleural involvement. Fortunately it has not metastasized to her bones or other organs. She agreed to submit to a regimen of carboplatin and etoposide. She made this choice principally to improve the quality of the last few months remaining to her. We both know there's no cure for this, and the cancer is a very aggressive one. Actually, I'm the more optimistic of the two of us. When I tell my wife positive things she looks at me in a sort of pitying and indulgent fashion. Like the character in the movie "A Night to Remember", who tells the child he is clutching as the Titanic crashes into the dark, cold depths, "It'll be alright. Don't be afraid. It'll be alright."

Anyway, we're not Christian folk. We don't ascribe to any common faith. If I gave it some thought I'd characterize my belief system as a cross between animist-Taoist-Hindu beliefs, with a touch of Zen. God knows what my wife believes in. All I know is that I'm the spiritual one. But make no mistake, we do not criticize anyone's beliefs. It is a good thing to have faith.

This much we do know, life can be good. The smell of moist earth in Spring, the giggles of children at play, a warm fire as the wind howls outside driving the snow before it. These are the small pleasures we share. They are also the reasons why my wife agreed to the chemo, knowing it would probably only bring her a year more of life.

Many of the posts on this board regard death and dying as a defeat, a shameful thing that can only be made right somehow through a monumental expenditure of misery that leaves the victims so prostrate that it would be unreasonable to ask them to do more. My wife and I have seen many people die of this miserable disease. None have been good. My own brother recently died from throat cancer which had metastasized to his cervical spine. He was on Quadramet when he died, peacefully, after a final unsuccessful bout with pneumonia.

I say peacefully, because both he and his wife had made arrangements with Hospice to attend to him when the doctors said there was nothing more they could do. It was the closest they came to actually choosing to face the end, rather than waiting for some traumatic act like heart failure to intervene.

I think it is important for a person to assert himself at the end of his days by choosing to face the end, rather than regarding it as a shameful defeat to be delayed at any cost. Birth is not shameful. Neither is death. as the koan asks "What was your face before you were born?" Whence we came, to where we go. Who knows? Only those who embark on the journey will know the answer to this

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There's some deep stuff there, Mainecoon. Appreciate you sharing your thoughts. I think, as a rule, the patient is more accepting od death than the loved ones around them. There are exceptions, of course. Ultimately, it is the wishes of the patient that should be honored, as painful as it may be for the loved ones sometimes. I am a Christian, but I do agree with you that we should not fear death because this life is not all there is. Thanks. Don

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The way I understand it is There is a first death, and there is a second death. When the first death happens, that person has no more thoughts, no more existence. He/she is gone. He/she does not know anything when he/she is dead. Just nothingness.

When the resurrection of the dead occurs, the dead will rise, and there will be a judgement. There is eternal life for some - and a second death for some.

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Guest DaveG

I am a Christian, but yet you raise many of the same beliefs that I hold so dearly. You just approach them from a different direction.

Since being restaged to Stage IV NSCLC, I have come to consider my death as a probability, and is no longer a possibility. What is left to consider, is when this will occur.

As long as I have the strength to do the things I enjoy, and the joy of reaching out to my lovely wife, of 32 years, I will do all in my power to maintain and hold on to what I have. I thank God for each day He has given me.

You sound as if, like myself, you live in the woods. My wife and I live in a log house, in an area of Wisconsin, called the Baraboo Bluffs. I have 20 acres of woods. My land adjoins a state park called Devils Lake State Park. The Baraboo Bluffs have recently been declared a National Natural Monument. I can step out my front door, at night, and hear the coyotes yowl, wake up, in the morning, and see white tails grazing in my yard, or look up in the sky and see either a golden or Bald Eagle in their slow, circling soar, searching the land for that morsel of food.

To the south, across a 90 acre field, is a creek and marshy area, in which many beaver reside. Wild turkey can be heard gobbling in the distance and the Sand Hill Cranes can be seen soaring over their nesting area.

My wife and I love our land and I am not ready to let this pass. As long as I can still breathe. As long as I can still think and make my own decisions. As long as I can feel the love of my wife. I will fight this disease with all the strength and power I have within me.

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Dave; That was excellent !!!, Despite all you have much to be grateful for..

I believe that I'm here today but for the grace of GOD, and all I really have is today so I do my very best to enjoy and cherish each one. Yes, easier said than done but it is my choice to make. I too am grateful for many things today and at the top of the list is LIFE. I remain a survivor!!

God bless and be well

Bobmc - NSCLC - stage IIB - left pneumonectomy- 5/2/01

" absolutely insist on enjoying life today!!"

PS - one of these days I'll post some nature pic's - 2 trips to Africa & 6 to Costa Rica- got some great shots.

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Guest canuckwebgrrl

Maincoon,

I know how you feel, I'm an athiest. I also absolutely agree with your take on facing death, and how facing it with dignity can be a part of the process. It's reassuring to know that there are other people on this board who are going through this without the calming benefit of belief in organized religion. Thank you for sharing.

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I respect a person's right to make choices about how they live, whether it's early days or the end of their days, as long as they are making choices and decisions about THEIR life.

I get to choose how I live my life, and I get to choose how I face it's end. And I am astounded that anyone would imply that the way they think I should live out my life is some how superior.

I don't want to live out my life with dignity. That's the ideal for dignified folks. :o) I want to live my last days exactly as I have lived the preceding days... with love and passion and laughter...lots of laughter. And joy...don't forget about pure, joy.

Tonight I am living what may be my second-to-the-last night on this earth. On Monday morning I will have my third big lung cancer surgery (pneumonectomy). Because of the previous three surgeries the operation carries more risk this time. So I'm going in to this knowing that May 19th may be the day I die. I don't want to die. I'm going to be really ticked off it that happens. ;o) But what I'm NOT going to feel is ashamed that I wanted to live so badly that I was willing to risk life itself for the best chance to prolong my life.

When I do die...whether it's on Monday, or next week, or next year I'm not going to look at it as having failed in my fight against this disease. I'm going to look at it as MY final and absolute victory over Lung Cancer. When I'm gone.. the cancer dies, too. I've said before that I am not afraid of death. I'm not. I see it as the next great adventure... it's just not one I want to start quite yet.

For those who are frightened, I wish you free of fear.

For those who are in pain, I wish release.

For those who are lonely, I wish a loved one to be near,

For those who are tired, I wish you sleep.

For those who want to live, I wish you years to come.

For all of those who fight, I wish you peace.

Good Night, Dear Ones. I leave for the hospital tomorrow afternoon. If all goes well, I'll be back in a few weeks.

Fay A.

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Dear Fay,

I want you to know that I am praying for you that all will be well during your surgery and your recovery. Before I went into surgery on January 10, I told my husband that if the worst happened-if I died-not to feel that it had been a mistake to go through with the surgery. I knew my tumor was in a very dangerous spot right next to the vena cava, but I trusted the doctor very much. I told my husband I would rather die fighting than wither away from this cancer. I survived the surgery and I am so happy to be alive. I would do the surgery again in a minute--just like you, Fay. You are a role model for me.

In many ways, our cases are similar. I am anxious to hear how you are doing. I don't know what else to say except that I am thinking of you and know you will do well.

Ada

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Life,

I believe that one should fight for what one holds dear and important. As for me, life is important, spending time with my son is important, spending time with my wife is important and so on..... I am not sure but have not found a religion yet that tells us to give up the fight for life even though there is a beautiful after life.

I do not think that life and death are related at all and feel that death is only a defeat if you are not prepared. I am not a heavy religious person but do have my sorted beliefs. There are many cases that death would be considered shameful but by no means would cancer or other heatlth reasoned deaths fall into this category.

You could look at it like a man needs a car to get to and from work, a Hyuindai is not shameful however a Mercedes would be a better means of transportation. Basically death is not shameful but if there is possiblility of life or and extension of life to spend with family and friends, then you have to grasp at it. Neither is wrong but a preferred order could bring joy and happiness.

If I am rambling, forgive me. KatieB's 30 birthday party just ended and a little light headed.

Rickey

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Mainecoon,Thank you for your frankness.I totally respect your views in regards to the topic.I have been a realist my whole life.I have always been a positive thinker and tried to be a positive influence in others lifes.With my diagnosis i immediately wanted to know what the" hard numbers were " the statistics.Although i may not like looking at the numbers for me it was important.I know that as of todays date there is no cure available for my disease.However,i do hold out hope for a new and improve type of drug or regimen that may provide some future hope for all cancer patients.Here is my two cents worth....... I lost my father to sclc over 25 years ago and in many ways it shaped and molded my thinking over the years and at times i have looked at my own mortality prior to my diagnosis.Since my diagnosis i have again looked at my own mortality and the time i may have left here on earth.Not an easy thing to do for some but for me it was essential in dealing with my diagnosis and getting my self and others prepared for the worst case scenario wich to be quite honest is death.I am not scared of death and i have taken the neccesary steps in pre planning everything while im still here and able to do it ie; funeral arrangements,burial plot,etc... I have also taken the proper steps to ensure the following #1 no advanced life support,No resucitation,No brain surgery if i cant make the descision,along with a few other things.I have learned in the last few months that many of the descisions that have to be made are very selfish in their nature but there is no way around this.I continue to amaze my friends and family with my sense of humor and the way i poke fun at myself but hey thats just me and my way of dealing with things.I do know for sure the day i walked out of the Drs. office after my diagnosis something super natural came over me and alot of my life long conceptions and ideas have vanished and been replaced by an almost morbid like realization that i will be facing emminet death.... regardless of how positive i may be about things.If this is harsh sounding i appologize.If anyone takes offense to my views please have an open mind and realize that i think we all deal with this in different ways and that it is ok.I feel a togetherness and a common bond here on this board irregardless of our thoughts on this matter.It is our life struggles with this disease that has brought us all here together.Hopefully none of us will have to deal with this any time soon however when the time comes i will be able to rest and take comfort in the fact that i have dealt with this in the best way that i am capable of.I just hope my family will look at this in the same way.Again Mainecoon thank you very much... Greg

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Well, Mainecoon, looks as if you brought up some deep thoughts among us all. I'm still so new at this, I have only one way of thinking...I'm surviving. But I am realistic to know that I may be, in the not so far future, facing the same things as your wife. You have faced this time with courage and I agree that you have to enjoy every single moment. I wish I knew just the right thing to say...but I admit I am at a loss for words. It has brought thoughts to me, that I am not comfortable or ready to think about for myself. as of yet. You and your wife are in my thoughts...thanks so much for sharing your thoughts and feelings. FayA...you promised me an e-mail when you got home, so I am waiting...hugssssss dear one...Cherry45

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Bart- No need to apologize for your feelings. I did quite the same thing. I pre arranged my funeral, living will, advanced directives, etc...just in case. I thorougly expected to beat this and I did, but to not have done this would have left my family facing decisions I could have spared them.

Funny how you say something supernatural came over you. I felt the same way the night before my first CT scan. After the biopsy, I just accepted that my time had come much earlier than I ever thought it would . I didn't know that lc could be cured.

When I met the onc and he said it may be curable-I had the crack of daylight I needed to run through.

Good luck to you and God bless.

Rocco

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I LIKE ALL THE OTHERS, RESPECT EVERYONES PERSONAL BELIEFS ON RELIGION. I AM A FIRM BELIEVER THAT THERE IS A PLACE WAITING, ALONG W/ FRIENDS AND FAMILY, FOR ME ON THE OTHER SIDE...IM PRETTY TORN SOMETIMES THO, KNOWING HOW MUCH I WILL MISS MY SONS 29-22-18 AND GRANDSON WHICH WILL BE 2 IN JUNE....BUT KNOWING WE WILL ALSO BE TOGETHER SOMEDAY AGAIN, MAKES THAT EASIER. IVE BEEN LUCKY AND LED A VERY FULL LIFE, BUT IVE ALSO FOUND THE LOVE OF MY LIFE AFTER 47 YEARS, WEVE BEEN TOGETHER FOR ALMOST 4 YEARS, AND I KNOW WE WILL BE TIL THE END..THIS WAS THE PERSON I ALWAYS LOOKED FOR AND ACTUALLY FINALLY FOUND....SO I TRY TO ENJOY EVERY MINUTE I GET TO SPEND W/ HIM AND THE REST OF FRIENDS AND FAMILY..........TAKE CARE AND STAY POSSITIVE.......THATS THE NAME OF THE GAME..I HAD A YOUNG BOY WHEEL ME DOWNSTAIRS OF THE HOSPITAL, WE TALKED AS WE WENT AND THE ONE THING I REMEMBER WAS WHEN HE SAID, YOU JUST HAVE TO HOLD ON AND RIDE IT OUT!!!!!!!!!!!!! AND THATS EXACTLY WHAT IT FEELS LIKE IVE DONE.. RONNA

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