I’m still here as the spring flowers are starting to pop up in my garden. With a smile on his face, my son dragged me outside to see the crocuses peeking up throughout the garden when the snow began to melt away. They are here!!! Spring is here!!! And..….I’m still here!!!

I know I’ve been living this way for many months, but it’s still very strange. I never know if I will be here next month, next week or tomorrow. When I was hospitalized last month, my oncologist stopped in to see me right before I left and I asked him if he was surprised that I was still here – in this world. He hesitated a little before he answered. He was honest – he said yes.

I began on Hospice care when I left the hospital. I really believed I wasn’t even going to ever leave the hospital. I was pretty sure this was it. Even though Hospice cares for people for many months before they die and has tried to extend their image that they go beyond just end-of-life-care. No one seems to believe that. I tried to become the cooperative Hospice patient and ordered a bracelet announcing my DNR (Do Not Resuscitate) intention. I couldn’t think of any hospital equipment that I needed at home to help my stay during my last few weeks. So, I ordered a shower chair. Then I invited my sister over to take showers in my house so she could use the chair. She thought that was very funny, but wasn’t interested. Neither was I.

And so, I didn’t die.

So, I canceled the bracelet and sent back the chair. Slowly I began to feel better and began walking one or two miles a day again. I guess it’s not my time yet. I am afraid we might be getting a bit relaxed and forgetting that I still could go any moment. I don’t want us to be shocked by reality.

Man Makes Plans, the Universe Laughs

Family members and friends are becoming fully vaccinated and want to visit so we are setting up plans. As I make menus and plan activities for all my visitors, I am becoming afraid that I might be tempting fate or the universe. What’s that old expression? Will the universe laugh at my plans? So, I started helping my husband plan my funeral. I hoped that funeral plans balance party plans to keep the universe happy. The funeral sounds like a fun event. Somehow I’d like to be there!

As a forever planner, it’s a bit strange to not make plans for all my visiting guests. But, I am not making too many party plans. I’m keeping it simple. It feels important to me that I remind myself that anything can change in a flash. I feel much better in the safety and comfort of my own home. I need my stuff around me. I need my routines. I compare myself to my granddaughter. We like to be close to the people and things that help us feel safe. Fun is good, but in small doses, a little at a time. In the meantime, I’m back to living again. In just small doses!

Kathleen Braier, Pancreatic Cancer Patient and "Together, We Are Strong" Blogger
About the Author

Is it possible to live a full and meaningful life with cancer? Kathleen thinks so. After she was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer in 2017, she spent a year on a chemo regimen that provided about 10 days of feeling well enough to live a fairly normal life between treatments. She joked about writing an imaginary blog for about a year before realizing... against all predictions of her imminent demise, she was still somehow alive. She decided she would write a real version of her blog to honor those diagnosed with any late-stage cancers. They might live longer than expected and she wanted to provide a bit of a guide that tells them what that might be like. Posts on the Together, We Are Strong cancer blog can also be read on her personal blog at https://livingmylifein10days.com/. Though not the experience she would have chosen, she does not believe living with an end-stage cancer should stop anyone from living their life with meaning.

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