Lessons In Living And Dying With Cancer

October 26, 2016 10:18 pm

The following article is provided by The Clearity Foundation to support women with ovarian cancer and their families. Learn more about The Clearity Foundation and the services we provide directly to women as they make treatment decisions and navigate emotional impacts of their diagnosis.

Lessons In Living And Dying With Cancer

On November 8th in Colorado, we will be voting on Proposition 106: Colorado End-of-Life Options Act, which is an act that allows individuals with a terminal illness to request from their physician and self-administer medical aid-in-dying medication. Needless to say, this is a very controversial issue. However, for cancer survivors, especially those of us NED but with advanced disease, death always looms.

Just a week ago in my home state, a young ovarian cancer survivor I knew only by name, friends who loved her, and her posts on social media went into hospice and died a few days later. Consequently, I see the feelings I had in response to her death being expressed by Susan Gubar in her post published in The New York Times.

Like Susan Gubar, I, too, think we should leave this world a better place. Like Gubar, I am a former college professor and an 8-year ovarian cancer survivor. For many educators, our mission in teaching, especially those of us using great literature to inform others about the value of shared human experiences, is to educate on how to live.  But what happens when we try to teach about another aspect of life with cancer, which is, how to die?

Just contemplating teaching students, survivors, and women effected by ovarian cancer how to die sends me into spirals of sadness and inadequacy. However, just as Gubar has seen value in drawing upon David Bowie’s video and her friends’ experiences, I’m drawing upon the power of her words to teach myself about how to die.

Read her words, pass this piece along to another survivor or share your responses below. Life includes death so, hopefully, through drawing upon the experiences of others, we can all learn how to navigate, gracefully and with dignity, both!

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