My stepfather died just over a week ago. Diagnosed at 77 with a lung cancer, he considered his options and chose not to treat it. The surgery carrying its own significant risks. He’d had a great life he reasoned. Premature at birth and not expected to survive, he’d outlived them all. Mother, father, sister, brother. Everyday now a blessing.

That was almost 10 years ago. And for the past 9 of those years the cancer has laid dormant, only raising its head in the last few months. With the benefit of hindsight, the doctors confirmed his decision not to treat it all those years ago was the right one for him. Not necessarily for everyone, but right for him. And during all those years he carried the cancer, I am in awe of how he still smiled, still enjoyed life. Simply getting on with living.  He did it so well, and there were many times I even forgot he had it.

I think now of how brave it is to embrace life in spite of a diagnosis. After all, so many just give up. And when I got my diagnosis, I know he understood. I will be forever grateful for the courage he inspired in me to grab life by the throat and squeeze no matter the path that lay ahead. For the confidence to move forward, finding my peace with what is, just as he had done. He chose not to fight. He didn’t battle. Instead doing what he could, what was acceptable to him, while making peace with the rest. And I can only wonder at the extra years of life that gave him…

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