Malia Lane answers, “How does it feel to know you’re dying soon?”

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Malia is a long-time full-time RVer who was diagnosed last spring with terminal lung cancer. She is graciously sharing her journey with us. Read her previous post here.

by Malia Lane, Malia’s Miles Blog

Well, technically, we’re all dying from the moment we are born. How long it takes to become aware of this fact and what we think about it after we know leads to a whole different consciousness.

I was told in May 2018 that the average life expectancy of stage 4 lung cancer I have is about one year. She reminded me that average means half of the subjects died before a year and a half lived a bit longer and we had no idea where I would fit on that spectrum.

In order to qualify for hospice care, they have to be able to say death is expected within six months. My oncologist set me up with that in August because he says they provide invaluable services to someone in my position and it’s not wise to wait till the last minute to contact them. I plan to do a whole post about the amazing care they provide for those that don’t know about it, but that’s for another day.

Here it is, the first week of the New Year 2019 and since time hasn’t stopped, I assume we’re talking roughly March when things would really be looking dire for me. If that timetable holds true, I won’t make it to my 68th birthday on April 30. A bit of a daunting thought, that, and a couple of years less than I always thought. I always figured I’d die around age 70. I don’t know how to explain that, but it was just always a belief I had.

But I’m also always being told that I’m still pretty vibrant (vital signs all good) and there is no expiration date on my forehead, so there’s no way to say for sure. They develop guidelines based on symptoms and how fast and furious they’re coming. So it’s not that I’m giving up all hope, but I don’t see the wisdom on being in denial, either, so I’m taking the steps I need to take to get my practical affairs handled.

(click to enlarge)

So how am I feeling physically? Well, the biggest problem I have right now is the tumors that have escaped the skin covering and are now popping out over the neck. What started off looking like a little pimple now looks like a mushroom monster fever blister that has spread up and out. Besides being disgustingly ugly, it’s quite painful. So far I’ve been able to manage it with Percocet and I’m still supplementing with CBD/THC (cannabis oil) since that helps the pain, also.

They started me on a steroid the other day that they hope will at least delay the spread of the tumor on the outside, and maybe even shrink it some. I just hope at least they have bigger and bigger bandages because it’s quite upsetting to me when I have to look at it.

Besides that, my energy level truly sucks and I am pretty much a basket case in the afternoons and just “take to my bed.” But I’m sleeping pretty well at night for the most part (medicated), and that’s a very big deal for me.

So, how many of us have really taken the time to think about how you would feel to know that you have a raging disease that will take your life before a year is up? I’ve had many thoughts about death during my 67 years on this earth, sometimes welcoming it with unholy wishes for it just to end. Yes, I’ve had those dark, depressing moments. And I’ve had those glorious moments where I wished life would never end.

Just think about what an interesting exercise it would be just for a day to keep focused on the fact that you could die in six months. See how much that changes your perspective.

I do notice things changing in how I interact with people, particularly those I love and have a connection with. I hug people differently; squeeze a little harder and hold on a little longer. I look them in the eyes to emphasize I mean what I say when you say, “I love you.”

When I started posting about the diagnosis, I started hearing the most amazingly wonderful and sweet things from people who either know me personally or feel like they do from reading about my 17 years of traveling as a solo RVer.

I get so touched reading these testimonies of what I’ve meant to them, sometimes I feel like it’s reading a little of my own obituary every day. It’s a little weird, but in reality, it’s one of the biggest blessings I’ve had. It’s so easy to go through our lives being totally oblivious as to how what we do affects others. All of us should be more conscious of how we can uplift each other in simple but heartfelt ways.

So just how do I feel about knowing that I’m dying soon? One thing I don’t feel is cheated that I’m dying too soon. I can’t help but feel grateful that I had all these years of travel when I was young enough to do more serious hiking and other activities that I couldn’t begin to do now. If I had waited till traditional retirement age, then I’d be chewing on a whole lot more resentment and anger at myself than I have now.

Maybe I could have done more, but I did a bunch. I could have seen more, but I’ve seen enough. My main advice remains to follow your dreams while you can and as early as you can. I’ve had 17 years of traveling around this country seeing and doing things I never could have conceived of as a little girl and I can drum up nothing but gratitude for that, even though it wasn’t always easy and there were trade-offs in the process.

And yesterday was truly a momentous day for me. Besides being the official first day of the new year, I handled off my book to Larry, the earth angel who is taking it from here to get it formatted for Kindle and up for sale on Amazon (it’s now available. See below). This after earth angel Jaimie did some editing and whose input was invaluable. There is no way to describe the relief I feel for having completed the writing, or the hope that I have that I will actually be able to hold that book in my hand and see it in print before I die.

Even though I just got through writing my book about fearing less, and that explains better my having no fear of death itself, I do find myself aware of so many things that I’m still afraid of. I still have fear of pain in the dying process.

Yes, I am sad to think of leaving beloved people behind, but I also look forward to being greeted by those on the other side whose loss I have grieved.

far far better thingsThe weather here in Southern Oregon has been very dreary and rainy, which doesn’t help lift my spirits. On the days when the sun peeks out, I don’t always have the energy to get out and enjoy it. But I still pray, “It’s a beautiful day on earth, Lord. I’m happy to be here. These sights are beautiful. But I won’t argue with you when it’s time to come to my true home, either. I know how awesome it is to be closer to you, too.”

Don’t let what you can’t do stop you from doing what you can. Wake up, dream, live! It’s a Happy New Year!

Malia’s book, Fear Less vs Fearless: The Journey of a Lifetime is now available in both paperback and Kindle editions (free with Kindle Unlimited).

Editor’s Note: Next week: Time Running Out for Malia

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Julianne G. Crane
Guest

Rest in peace brave Malia. Your honest writing and courage shine as guides for those of us left to follow. Thank you dear friend.

Steve Rosenlund
Guest
Steve Rosenlund

From 72 yr old fellow Oregonian, I appreciate the feelings you share. While my cancer is treatable, I have accepted that it may reach a point where it’s not. All my “have tos” are done, I still have a lot of want tos but these are luxery problems. When my time is up I will try not to be too much of a burden on my family or caregivers and I want to set a good example for my kids. Pretty much like you. Also kind of looking forward to what’s on the other side.

Deniece Bennett
Guest
Deniece Bennett

Malia, I had part of my lung removed due to Cancer a year ago and now am looking at another diagnostic on the other lung. Wrapping ones head around ones end approaching can take a toll on our mental stability. Thank you for your openness. May god be gentle on your journey.

Robert
Guest

Malia, thank you for being so forthcoming in a genuine and friendly way. I consider you a very brave person, and an inspiration. I am ordering the paperback version of your book this evening. I can’t wait to hear more of your thoughts and feelings. God bless you.

Wayne
Guest
Wayne

God can and will give you a peace no matter what our future holds if we ask. May God bless you.

Jim
Guest
Jim

Gods Speed Malia. Tim McGraw sings it best with “live like your dying” and obviously you have chosen that path. Your book will be of value and will be a source of strength for those in need. Plus it insures you will live on through your word.

Katherine Trask
Guest
Katherine Trask

Malia, I lost my 26 year-old son and yes it is devastating to the family, In my case my son was saved a believer in Jesus Christ as his Savior. I hope this is the case for you if not, I would love to speak with you about your eternal destination.
In His Service,
Katherine

DIANNE BURNS
Guest
DIANNE BURNS

My husband died on the hospital bed in the emergency department all hooked up to all monitors and the Dr telling me right in front of him that yes he had had a mild heart attack but everything looked good now…..they were able to revive him within minutes . My husband told me it was painless and actually a very peaceful & euphoric experience. That was 7 yrs ago. My husband now does not fear death, and has become a much happier, calmer person…. Just wanted to let you know Malia

DB
Guest
DB

Some years back my wife and I noticed a billboard that offered free lung scans at the hospital we already attended. There, a doctor was looking for people over 50, who grew up in a home where parents or family members smoked during your childhood, and for people who smoked themselves, but had given it up at least 15 years ago. We both met all the criteria. The doctor’s goals to try to get insurance carriers to pay for early lung scans, as there was a direct cost savings to waiting. As you know, without a lung scan, lung cancer… Read more »

Don & Carol Warkentin
Guest
Don & Carol Warkentin

The most important thing is to know that Jesus loves you and that he alone is your Lord and Savior. When your last breath on earth has ended, the next breath will be with Jesus. No more cancer. Just eternity with him

Katherine Trask
Guest
Katherine Trask

Amen

A friend
Guest
A friend

Just bought your book and am really looking forward to reading it.

Thank you so much for sharing your journey in such an enjoyable way.

Happy travels, friend! 🌞

Vicki
Guest
Vicki

I’m one of the fortunate ones who has been an online friend of Malia’s for several years. When she announced that her book was available, I immediately purchased it, and the paperback will be at my door today or Monday. Malia’s book is a must-read for anyone who is also full-time solo or considering it. Do many of us have fought depression demons, but she attacks them head on, and does not hide or downplay the importance of recognizing it. And her demons have been with her throughout her amazing journey – but she has overcome them time and time… Read more »

jbc
Guest
jbc

You are a road warrior. Thank you for sharing – for all the years of sharing. All the best in your future travels, oh the sights/sites you will see!

ROBERT MATHEWS
Guest
ROBERT MATHEWS

I wish I could hold your hand and look in your eyes, I feel your situation’s emotions. Being well beyond the life expectancy for Mantel Cell Lymphoma diagnosed in 2000, I am feeling great and enjoying a simple life, it is in God’s hands not mine. I am a little afraid, but I will go where God sends me. God bless you for sharing your story. Being happy and friendly to others and staying away from stress seems to work for me.

Ilse Werdermann
Guest
Ilse Werdermann

As another person with metastatic (terminal) cancer, I recommend the book “How to starve cancer without starving yourself” by Jane McLelland. She had “terminal” lung cancer that was supposed to kill her within weeks. That was in 1999. The book reads more like a novel. She has somewhat of a health care background and researched a lot. Came up with many different things that helped. I myself only allow low dose chemotherapy to save my immune system. It’s hard to explain a book in a few sentences, but I think it’s well worth the ten dollars for the Kindle version.… Read more »

Kathy Mitton
Guest
Kathy Mitton

Malia, sharing your incredible journey is jaw dropping inspiring. I contacted you via your blog about 12 years ago, when I was setting out as a solo fulltimer. I wish you peace, my fellow road warrior.

Kathy

Diane Mc
Guest
Diane Mc

Malia, your courage is an example for us all. I always ask the Lord, if I should be faced with a debilitating or terminal illness, that He give me the courage to deal with it with dignity & strength. You are how I pray I would deal with it. I am happy that you feel you have done so much in your life that you have no regrets. Good for you. My husband and I also retired early, so we are blessed as well. I hope you get help with the pain so you can enjoy your remaining days with… Read more »

Mark Gaunt
Guest
Mark Gaunt

Malia-We’ve never met, but, I feel as though we have thru your posts on this newsletter. The lady in my life is a stage 4 breast cancer survivor. At first things looked pretty bad, but, she pulled through & after 7 rears she’s well & very optimistic. I admire you for your strength & attitude, Keep that approach as much as you can & always remember how much your postings are helping people now. And, yes, look forward to experiencing the “other side”. I believe it will be wonderful! Thank you for sharing your life with us. Mark/Vancouver, WA.

Mike
Guest
Mike

Oh my God, Malia Lane. Your story brought me to tears. I hope you continue to enjoy the rest of your days the best you can with the least amount of pain. Hugs, cheers, peace, and love………….mike

James Wagner
Guest
James Wagner

God Bless you. I admire your courage and faith. I wish you the best on your journey! Thank you so much for sharing your experience, it is truly enlightening.

Tommy Molnar
Guest
Tommy Molnar

I was recently diagnosed with Myelodysplastic Syndrome. I had to look it up too. It’s a blood and bone marrow thing. When the doc first told us about it we (wifey and I) thought it was the end. I’m 72, she 67. How could this be? It’s nothing compared to what Malia is facing, but nevertheless, no one wants to think the “end” could come, well, earlier than we think or ‘plan’. After two rounds of chemo, and then getting Neutropenic fever after both, I’m now hoping on hope I can make it through the next three rounds of chemo… Read more »

RV Staff
Admin

Thank you for sharing that, Tommy. We’re very sorry to hear it. (Yes, I just looked it up, as well a neutropenic fever.) We wish you success in your treatments, and with no adverse side effects, and many healthy and happy years of RVing to come! You go, dude! 😀 —Diane at RVtravel.com