We define bloggers somewhat loosely–we include authors, film producers, cartoonists, television shows and other mediums of expression. This week we look at authors and the topic of mortality.
Cancer brings up the realization of our own mortality. How do we want to live; how do we want to be remembered? This awareness can take on small changes that enhance our daily lives; it can mean dramatic changes in the meaning of life. Here are some thoughts on cancer and mortality:
Upon confirmation of a lung cancer diagnosis, Paul Kalanithi writes of his academic and clinical pursuits in his memoir, When Breath Becomes Air, saying,
“My carefully planned and hard-won future no longer existed. Death, so familiar to me in my work, was now paying a personal visit. Here we were, finally face-to-face, and yet nothing about it seemed recognizable. Standing at the crossroads where I should have been able to see and follow the footprints of the countless patient I had treated over the years, I saw instead only a blank, a harsh, vacant, gleaming white desert, as if a sandstorm had erased all trace of familiarity.”.
Consider as well, David Servan-Schreiber’s words in Anticancer: A New Way of Life:
“Cancer sometimes cures this strange nearsightedness, this dance of hesitations. By exposing life’s brevity, a diagnosis of cancer can restore life’s true flavour. A few weeks after my diagnosis, I had the odd feeling a veil had been lifted that until then had dimmed my sight.”
From How Do You Face Your Mortality-or Do You?, by Barbara Cunning-Versaevel:
“Personally, I find all of these [cancer] experiences comforting. It makes me feel as though I really am not alone. When life got tough, which it did, there was some power, some other being, looking out for me. I could call on this power or God to me, to listen and help me through when there wasn’t anyone around in my real world to be there. This still applies. I know that many times, I am guided to where I need to be. Circumstances and opportunities appear that I could never in a million years have orchestrated. They just happen – and they work. They certainly don’t happen by anything I do.
It also makes me aware that our lives matter after we are gone. What we say and do within our circle of influence lives on as our legacy. It can be as simple as something we say to someone, some kindness or help we extended, or simply just being there for our family and friends. We never know what our actions mean to someone else.“
“I do not see cancer as a gift. I would never give it to you for your birthday Life is the gift: cancer is what makes you more aware of that.”
From Anita Moorjani, author of Dying To Be Me:
“Ohh…I’m dying! Is this what if feels like? It’s nothing like I ever imagined. I feel so beautifully peaceful and calm…and I feel healed at last!
…I then had a sense of being encompassed by something that I can only describe as pure, unconditional love, but even the word love doesn’t do it justice. It was the deepest kind of caring, and I’d never experienced it before. It was beyond any physical form of affection that we can imagine, and it was unconditional—this was mine, regardless of what I’d ever done. I didn’t have to do anything or behave a certain way to deserve it. This love was for me, no matter what!
I felt completely bathed and renewed in this energy, and it made me feel as though I belonged, as though I’d finally arrived after all those years of struggle, pain, anxiety and fear.
I had finally come home.”