What is it like to live with the knowledge that the disease, illness or condition you have may reduce your life expectancy?
I can only speak for being given a cancer diagnosis, but I imagine the same is true for other life-limiting or life-threatening conditions such as heart disease, multiple sclerosis, Parkinsons and even Diabetes, to name a few.
In my life, there have been times when I have felt very vulnerable; when I found a lump in my breast and had to wait a week for the results of the scan; when I got divorced and moved into a house with my teenage sons, having to go it alone financially, without the safety cushion of a partner to support me emotionally; when I was made redundant after nine years with the same company, nine years loyalty and hard work.
However, all those vulnerable situations, when I thought life was pretty bad, they're nothing compared to being given a cancer diagnosis.
In all those instances, I felt hugely uncertain but nothing like the uncertainty of living with the threat of your life being cut short. Imagine living with the uncertainty of not knowing whether you will even see your son graduate from university. Or be at your boys’ weddings or meet your grandchildren. Even see this coming Christmas. Yes, those are all thoughts which have run through my head over the past two years. This year I celebrated my 50th birthday and that was a massive milestone, not just the number, but the fact that I can tick off one of the occasions that was on my 'not sure I'll get there' list.
I wouldn’t wish that uncertainty on my worst enemy...
What my condition has given me is perspective and a sense of what really matters and believe me, it isn’t money, fancy holidays or a big house, all of which I have enjoyed over the course of my life.
What matters is family, friends, experiences, memories, random acts of kindess, respect and consideration for your fellow man, honesty, trust, fun, laughter, smiles...and above all another year notched up since diagnosis.