Terminal: What does it mean?
Author: Shannon Miller
By guest blogger Tammy Badida
I can still remember hearing that word for the first time in relation to my husband’s cancer. It went something like this: “Mr. Badida you have stage four, terminal cancer, with a life expectancy of 6-9 months.” I want to really stress here that everyone’s situation is very different. Along your journey you may have heard or possibly could hear that word, and I think it is important to address what it can mean.
Doctors will share with you statistically what they know, and each person’s path will be different. I am speaking strictly about my husband’s diagnosis and what it meant for us in hopes that it can ease some of the burden you may be feeling from the same diagnosis.
I do remember that day being one of the hardest ever. It was a day that I could not hold back the tears in front of my husband Nick or our son Aaron. I was sobbing as we left that life-changing appointment and had to go to another. At that moment I would say terminal, in my mind, meant complete devastation, and it almost brought a sense of denial in my mind.
It is amazing what your mind can eventually absorb, however, and as the days and weeks started passing by, the meaning of that word began to change. We started trying to grasp it and realized that, in the physical sense, Nick may have been terminally ill, but emotionally and mentally he had an immense desire to live. Being terminal had gone from devastation and denial to acceptance. We made a choice as a family to accept this, and live our lives as joyfully and wholly as possible. We may have been told a possible outcome, but we knew that ultimately no one but the Lord knew for sure how things would turn out.
There are many reasons I want to talk about being diagnosed with a terminal illness. It opens up the door to a very different life for you and your family, a life that doesn’t necessarily have to be filled with overwhelming fear and sadness. Terminal doesn’t have to define the quality of life that your family can experience. Prioritizing things in your household will become very important and you may find yourself in a mode of constant planning. That’s okay! It is a smart thing to do, and it may even bring a sense of peace and security to everyone.
In the period following my husband’s terminal diagnosis, we were also introduced to the world of palliative care, and we met a wonderful doctor. I will talk more about palliative care and what a tremendous help it can be in my next article. As I have stressed before, support is very important. Check to see if any of your local hospitals, churches, or doctor’s offices offer counseling specifically for families of terminally-ill patients. There is no single, easy definition of what terminal illness can mean to you and your family, but as a caretaker, you will find a strength you never knew you had.
“I’m not just living life, I’m surviving.”—Anonymous
Next Tuesdays Topic: Palliative Care
Article by Tammy Badida