May 12, 2012
I just found out that one of my cousin’s best friend passed away earlier today. He was only 30. I’ve only met him once, 2 years ago, but I’ve read his blog and knew about his battle against leukemia so meeting him was a nice experience. At the time, he had already found a bone marrow donor and had undergone the transplant and was recovering so this news was a bit shocking. He developed GVHD, a side effect of the transplant. Complications from it ended up taking his life more than 2 years after the transplant. Having lost my dad to cancer, I knew how hard the whole ordeal must’ve been for his family and I know it must be a tough time for them right now.
Although I’ve only met him once, I was inspired by him. With the discomfort and pain that he has to deal with each day and still being able to put a smile on his face, he was something else.
I remember reading his last blog post back on December 5th about how he views life. He had some really inspiring words. Here is an excerpt…
“So my point is we should live life doing things that make us happy whether it may not be the right thing to do. I hate hearing people complain about their lives, how horrible it is and stressful it is. If that is the case, do something about it, do something that will make YOU happy…find a new job…leave your significant other who doesn’t make you happy and meet someone else…go get that shirt you’ve been thinking about…treat yourself to a nice meal….spend that extra money on the toy you’ve always wanted and reward yourself…speak up and say something to a friend everyone else is afraid to say to them…go watch a movie and relax if you’ve been working hard all day…basically, be a little selfish. It is nice to want to help others, but don’t forget about YOURSELF. You work hard so it’s okay to play hard.
If you are unhappy and think your life is in the gutter, THERE IS ALWAYS SOMEONE ELSE WHO HAS IT WORSE. That is the ONLY way I get through the day because even though I am cancer free, I still battle the effects of Leukemia and bone marrow transplant. I have graft vs host disease (GVHD) and deal with GVHD induced schleroderma. I have lost lots of mobility in my arms, back and legs. I suffer from myopathy and sometimes my entire body spasms and I cannot do anything about it. I am in CONSTANT pain all day and go to the hospital 2-3 times a week for photopheresis and chemotherapy treatments. These treatments are supposed to help but my body is not reacting as fast to these treatments and my oncologist has been trying different combination of treatments. I take a plethora amounts of medication daily to prevent infections and to help me get better. I have diabetes from all the medications that I have been on. I have severe dry eyes and have trouble reading and seeing throughout the day. They said all of the treatments “should help” and could take some time to get better but I will NEVER be back to normal. Sounds horrible and who would be happy with any of this, but I know there are others who have it worse and I see these patients every time I go to the hospital. I feel fortunate to be able to still walk, to still be eating on my own and not through a tube, to not have any organ failure which is common, fortunate to just be alive. I am fortunate to have Diep as my donor, as well as my mother, father, and Chloe there everyday by my side since this all started to help me get through the day. Without the four of them, as well as all my family and friends who have supported me (That’s you if you are reading this), I would not be here today. I don’t complain [only to Chloe =) and right now I guess] about any of this…but I continue to do what it takes to get better. Sitting around and sulking is not going to do anything for me. As Russell Peters would say, “Be a Man!” I will continue to make the hour long drive each way to go to the hospital for treatments if there is any slight possibility that it will help.
So, I hope you can and will do the same. If you are unhappy about something, do something about it….do something that will make you happy. For those that are happy and content, do something out of the ordinary for yourself to make yourself happy. This may include doing something that is not the right thing to do….but that is for you to decide. Pick and choose your battles, but live your life and be happy.”
You may or may not agree with his advice but keep in mind where he’s coming from. Many people recommend to live as if it’s your last day. Some may see this as being over the top and even irresponsible. You probably don’t want to blow your life savings just to have fun for a month since you may have a few more decades to live and will need that money but at the same time, delaying enjoyment is taking a risk since that day you’re saving up for may never come.
I think there’s a balance that we each have to figure out on our own. None of us knows for sure when our last day will be but knowing your days are nearing the end and believing that you have another 40 years to live are two scenarios that will lead to two different ways of living, different choices and decisions, and different experiences.
One thing I try to do is find some kind of joy out of each day, no matter how small it is. I try not to let a day go by where I don’t at least smile or feel grateful about something once during the day. I sometimes jump into my bed feeling relaxed and grateful to even have a bed to sleep on, remembering that when I first moved to the place I live now, I had to sleep on the floor for 2 weeks since the delivery folks were completely behind schedule.
Finding some joy in each day doesn’t have to be hard. You don’t have to spend a fortune to feel a moment of joy. Just think about what you already have at the moment and be grateful. Remembering to do this can sometimes be hard since we all get caught up with stuff in life. From reading the comments on Matt’s Facebook page, I could see that he had inspired a lot of people through how he lived his life and this unfortunate event has at least helped remind everyone who knew him, including myself, to pause for a second and remember how short and precious life is.
The amount of time you think you have left could end up being a lot shorter… and even if it isn’t, don’t take that risk because you just never know. Cherish your life and the people around you while you still can.