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Thoughts from the dying about living
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Annie shares her thoughts

How long have you been in the palliative unit?

One week.

How are you finding it?

Very pleasant.

What’s made it pleasant for you?

The staff. The room. The view.

Why are you here?

I have lung cancer and pulmonary fibrosis.

How did you feel when you received your diagnosis?

Like all my hope had been ripped from my body. I’ve always been very hopeful, very positive, always looked forward to everything. And that was taken away in an instant.

Are you still struggling with your diagnosis?

There’s nothing I can do about it, so I’m just going with it. I’m taking it day by day. My next step is I want to speak with a priest.

Why?

For comfort. I don’t want to leave anything undone in this world before going on. And I find it hard for my daughter. I want her to be happy.

What advice do you have for other people who may be facing a difficult diagnosis?

That they can’t fight it.

Has that made this a more peaceful time for you?

Maybe.

Are you religious?

I believe, I always have, but I have not practiced as I would like to have practiced.

What do you think comes next?

I believe in reincarnation. And I believe we get a chance to right our wrongs. I believe there is a transition period that you are given. This is also something I want to talk to the priest about.

When it comes to friends and family, what advice do you have?

Don’t treat the [dying] person any differently. Don’t make them feel all of the sudden like they are different, because they are not.

How can people live a happy life?

Have no regrets. You don’t want to get to this stage and feel badly for something you did. You can’t make up for it. You can’t undo it. Also, tell people you love them all the time, not just on occasion.

What will you miss?

My daughter. My animals. And this is going to sound really flimsy but I loved dressing up and wearing nice clothes and going to work everyday. I always looked good. I miss all that. I enjoyed that.

Are you afraid?

Maybe.

Why?

Of the unknown. But I’m also brave. I found strength. I didn’t look for it. It was just there.

Maybe we underestimate ourselves, because dying is a natural part of living?

Exactly.


* This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

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