3 Months to live. What would you do?

This was Liam’s June 2015 article for Careers in Government. It covers what went through his head when he was first offered treatment, but told it was likely that treatment would end his life before his cancer got to.  

13 years ago I was given 3 months to live. It appeared to be absolute. I had just been diagnosed with one of the worst cases of Head & Neck cancer ever seen. All of those who had gone before me were gone within 3 months.

I was just getting to grips with this predicament when my 3 months took a new shift. A cancer hospital in Liverpool was one of the few places in the world that could even look at a case like mine and, impressed by my fighting spirit, they wanted to give me a chance. But even there, they didn’t think I had any hope and told me the surgery I required was so risky it was very likely that I would never recover from it.

I would be trading in the 3 months I had left.

Two consultants explained the procedure in detail to me and outlined the many dangers. If I was still alive after the operation it would be a success in itself. The price of that success was almost certainly going to be that I would be disabled, blind, dumb, deaf or mentally impaired. The most likely scenario was that I would end up with some combination of all 5.

Or I could simply do nothing.

That was the only way to guarantee that the rest of my life would contain at least 3 months of good quality of life. But that was all it would contain.

They went to leave the room to give privacy to myself and my wife Pam, to contemplate the dark dilemma I was now in and make on our decision. It was about 5 paces from where they were standing to the door.

The brain obviously is extremely adept at correlating priorities at times like this. Just after they had taken their first step it flashed an image of my 3 small children in front of me. It told me that 3 months would make very little impact on their memory of me in 10 or 20 or 30 years time. Even if I brought them to a new Disneyland on Mars in the next few weeks they were all too young for it to be retained as a major landmark of their lives.

Then it turned to me. What would you do if you had 3 months to live. For some reason the activity that sprang to mind was a round the world cruise. By now they were taking their third pace and although my body still stood there in front of them, my mind was looking out to sea on a luxury cruise liner, somewhere off the coast of New Zealand.

I had a glass of champagne in my hand.

Now it asked me what was going through my head.

There was only one emotion. My brain was absolutely furious with me.

“What the hell are you doing here”.

“Those two men in Liverpool offered you a chance and here you are toasting your life away. All you wanted was a chance and if a chance came it was your job to take it. You should be on that slab fighting this to the last like a real man would”.

I knew at that point that not only would I not enjoy a single minute of the world cruise, it was also the last place I wanted to be.

By now the first consultant was about to put his hand on the door handle. I told them there was no need to go. The decision was already made. If they were telling me they were prepared to offer me a chance then it was my duty to everything I believed in, to take that chance.

The rest is history. Wonderful history.

So one day, just out of the blue, tell yourself you have 3 months to live and see what comes up. As you pan across your life will you regret that your car isn’t bigger, or that you didn’t buy that beach house you looked at, or that you didn’t work even harder to win the prestigious contract two years ago.

Or will it be that you haven’t made up with your brother since that silly argument last Christmas, or that you haven’t told your Mom you love her in over a year, or that you missed out on all those years as your kids were growing up.

Giving yourself 3 months to live is like taking a duster to your life. It will push away a lot of clutter. It will help you reset what are your true priorities, in the correct order.

If you do it now, when your time eventually does come you will already be a step ahead!

– See more at: http://www.careersingovernment.com/tools/gov-talk/about-gov/education/be-inspired-what-would-you-do-with-3-months-to-live/#sthash.2nXeQsOL.dpufive

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