By Janelle Lamontange
In November of 2017, I posted my first message in the YACC Facebook group. It was six months post brain cancer diagnosis, going through chemotherapy, and reeling from receiving a prognosis of three to five years. I had never felt so alone in my life.
After introducing myself, I wrote the following:
“How does a person proceed and make plans when your diagnosis is terminal but not immediately terminal, if that makes sense? I feel like I’m stuck in a limbo. I’m scared to make any decision that may have implications for the future. Any words of advice are greatly appreciated!”
I immediately received an outpouring of support and some of the most profound and impactful advice of my life. I was told variations of the following:
“Live like you’re living, not like you are dying.”
“Stay focused on living while accepting that life, for us, might end sooner than later.”
“Eat the cheesecake, give hugs, and party like a rockstar. As long as your heart is full and you breathe the rainbow of love around you, don’t just be alive, live.”
In the nearly four years since I posted my question, some of the people who answered have died from their cancers. There are others, like myself, who have outlived their prognoses. I think of them all frequently.
Today, after receiving the results of my most recent MRI, I stopped at a bakery and I bought myself the biggest piece of cake I saw. I then proceeded to eat and enjoy every single bite of it while reflecting on the last four years, the lessons I’ve learned, and the wonderful souls I’ve met along the way. If I were asked today, the question that I asked then, I would say:
“Life is to be lived. People are to be loved. And time is relative. Embrace the now because that’s really all that matters.”