Facing My Mortality from Cancer Made Me Grateful for Loved Ones


Twenty-five years ago, I was diagnosed with ovarian cancer, which sparked fears of leaving my loved ones behind.

I am a very lucky and blessed person. My cancer story is unusual for my type of cancer. I had ovarian cancer when I was 37 — 25 years ago.

At the time of diagnosis, the information that I read on the internet was that life expectancy was two years. I cried when I read it. My daughter was 14. I would not live to see her drive, let alone see her grown and independent. My doctor advised me not to put too much stock into what the published data revealed because it was all five years old and not currently accurate.

I traveled through treatment and life a day at a time. I worried about dying. I worried about sickness. I worried about my daughter. And I was so sick. I mourned my hair loss and was concerned that I would never have an adult physical relationship ever again.

I had a hysterectomy and four rounds of chemotherapy. I wanted to stop chemotherapy after the second treatment, but thankfully my oncologist and I had a conversation and he kept me on track with the plan we had made. As time went on, I came to terms with my illness and the possibility of death.

I became very thankful for my life that I had lived and wishedall of my family and loved ones joy in the rest of their life's journey. The song “Thank You” by Dido came to represent so much of what I felt at that time. Even now, when I hear it, I am transported back to that time and that joy and thankfulness for my life. I had such an overwhelming sense of gratitude for my daughter and my family and the love I shared with them, and the beauty of this world and all of the little joys we encountered. I would miss them and miss this life... possibly. I have faith and expect to have a life after death, but what that is exactly is unknown, and to leave this life for the unknown beyond is daunting.

I hadn't lost any person to death who I was close to up to my treatment and diagnosis, so I don't think that I understood that grief, but then two years after my diagnosis, I lost my mom. That grief will never leave me, and I now understand why it was hard for her to hear me discuss my possible death and what I hoped for my daughter, should I not survive. The thought was too much for her to bear. Now I understand that; before I lost my mom, I did not. I thought I could imagine it, but I could not.

I am still thankful to be alive and try to appreciate the wonders of this world, but I have to admit that I rarely think of it these days. But absolutely always when I hear “Thank You” by Dido.

This post was written and submitted by Deborah Harbadin. The article reflects the views of Deborah Harbadin and not of CURE®. This is also not supposed to be intended as medical advice.

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