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#56514 - 06/12/05 01:21 AM Re: so many questions  
Joined: Mar 2002
Posts: 4,743
Brian Hill Offline
OCF Founder
Brian Hill  Offline
OCF Founder
Patient Advocate (old timer, 2000 posts)

Joined: Mar 2002
Posts: 4,743
Boise, ID and Portland, OR
I find myself intellectually believing in my eventual death, after all cancer is a vehicle of how, perhaps even when, but not a function of if.... as it will come from one means or another. All the while I find my ego's belief in the permanence of my existence to be firmly rooted. That two diametrically opposed concepts can exist within me is the height of absurdity.... Thankfully this dichotomy allows me to function each day.

When I was in Vietnam I became friends with a Buddhist monk of about 18 years old. His bombed out Temple barely stood on a regular route of one of our patrols. He wore around his neck a small bone. I was curious about it, and on inquiring, he told me that it was the finger bone of his teacher who was cremated after his death. He wore it to remind himself of the transient nature of our existence. (As in live in the moment, and do not think of the past or future.) He told me that one day, one of his students would wear one of his in the same manner. At 19 myself, I was quite taken by his comfort with it all (Especially being in a place where death was all around us on a daily basis.) and envied his peace with it all. I think that almost 40 years later I still do.

Brian, stage 4 oral cancer survivor. OCF Founder and Director. The first responsibility of a leader is to define reality. The last is to say thank you. In between, the leader is a servant.
#56515 - 06/12/05 02:38 AM Re: so many questions  
Joined: Aug 2003
Posts: 1,627
minniea Offline
Patient Advocate (1000+ posts)
minniea  Offline
Patient Advocate (1000+ posts)

Joined: Aug 2003
Posts: 1,627
va. beach
Harry is still pretty new to survivorship so give him a little more time. I'm sure he still feels like crap and hopefully he can start to join the world again.
Take care,

SCC Left Mandible. Jaw replaced with bone from leg. Neck disection, 37 radiation treatments. Recurrence 8-28-07, stage 2, tongue. One third of tongue removed 10-4-07. 5-23-08 chemo started for tumor behind swallowing passage, Our good friend and much loved OCF member Minnie has been lost to the disease (RIP 10-29-08). We will all miss her greatly.
#56516 - 06/12/05 02:48 AM Re: so many questions  
Joined: Feb 2005
Posts: 663
netteq Offline
"Above & Beyond" Member (300+ posts)
netteq  Offline
"Above & Beyond" Member (300+ posts)

Joined: Feb 2005
Posts: 663
Houston, Texas
I fear death myself only because it is so unknown. I want to believe that life has some reason or meaning and that what I do here must have some purpose once I am gone. What bothers me is that I know the world existed long before I got here and I know it will continue long after I am gone but I have no memory of what was before. When I think back I can really only remember bits and pieces of my life up to about 12 years old. It was then that the memories began to stick and that I can even remember those times now. Most of my life before that I only know through my mom and others who knew me when I was a child.

I am resolved to the fact that I was born to die. I have to believe that what I do in between those 2 moments in time means something, has a purpose or reason for happening.

I have become a Taoist over the last several years and I understand the story that you tell of the Bhuddist monk that you met in Asia. I know that I come from something that cannot be named but that is the origin of all existence. The unnamed has no beginning or end but has just always existed and whether I am living or dead I am always a part of it. I know that the most important part of my existence is in the balance that I am able to create within my life. When things change the balance changes and sometimes I have to move in one direction or another to keep the balance.

I too look at everyday as something to be treasured and enjoyed not just endured. Even in the worst of circumstances I can find something within that keeps me grounded. I guess this is why I have not gone completely insane throughout this ordeal. But it is difficult to watch someone staring at the tree not realizing that there is an entire forest around him.

From where I came I will someday return. It is an unavoidable truth even when it is ignored. I find no comfort in knowing that I will die someday but I feel an even greater need to make each of those days count for something.

For my children I try to give memories. I take time out and we go and do things that I hope they will remember. I show them who I am so that I am not forgotten when I am gone.

The Tao says that "Life acquires meaning when we face the conflict between desires and reality". That is where we find peace and balance but ignoring the truths will only lead to wasted time.

The Tao says, "Banish uncertainty. Affirm strength. Hold resolve. Expect death."

It speaks for itself.

The following is a quote from one of my books. It explains what I understand far better than I can so I will quote it.

"Death is the opposite of time. We give death metaphors. We cloak it in meaning and make up stories about what will happen to us, but we don't really know. When a person dies, we cannot see beyond the corpse. We speculate on reincarnation or talk in terms of eternity. But death is opaque to us, a mystery. In its realm, time ceases to have meaning. All laws of physics become irrelevant.
What Dies? Is anything actually destroyed? Certainly not the body, which falls into its constituent parts of water and chemicals. That is mere transformation, not destruction. What of the mind? Does it cease to function, or does it transition to another existence? We don't know for sure, and few can come up with anything conclusive.
What dies? Nothing of the person dies in the sense that the constituent parts are totally blasted from all existence. What dies is merely the identity, the identification of a collection of parts that we called a person. Each one of us is a role, like some shaman wearing layers of robes with innumerable fetishes of meaning. Only the clothes and decoration fall. What dies is only our human meaning. There is still someone naked underneath.Once we understand who that someone is, death no longer bothers us. Nor does time."

This is how I see life and death in all it has to offer and take away. For without sadness there would be no happiness just as without an up there is no down.


Caregiver to ex-husband Harry. Dx 12/10/04 SCC stg 3, BOT with 2 nodes left side. No surg/chemo x4 /rad.x37(rad comp. 03/29/05)Cisplatin/5FU(comp. 05/07/05)-T1N2M0-(cancer free 06/14/05)-(12/10/06) 2 yr. Survivor!!!
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