Art of Dying Art of Dying_Volume III_joomag | Page 43

There was a point in time when I wanted to say that I was a warrior, fighting cancer. I've migrated from using those words. People who fight train every day. If you're a boxer, you go to the gym and spar. If you're a soldier, you're at the rifle range. Fighters hone their expertise. My expertise is taking pills out of a bottle and swallowing them with water. There's no training for that. There's no battle. There's no fight. Cancer doesn't fight fair. It is a coexistence. A tie with cancer counts as a win. I'm not finished being a dad yet. If I let cancer overwhelm that aspect of If a diagnosis of a mortal illness changes the way you live, then you haven’t been living the way you my life, then I'm a less of a dad. It takes effort to not allow cancer to become should. This past week I had to sit down with Emma for the fifth time and say "I GARTH CALLAGHAN the definition of your life. I've had a long time to get used to it. have cancer." There was a point where even Emma in her busy life was going to realize that dad's at the doctors more this week than he was last month. Telling Emma that I have cancer again broke my heart. It snapped us back into a reality that we haven't been facing for a while. Outside of dad having to go to bed early or dad throwing up unexpectedly, we'd developed a casual relationship with cancer. Maybe it was too casual. This was my 44th scan since this whole thing started. I got this scan report before my doctor talked to me. In today's day and age, my scan report was sent to my phone’s medical app. I know how to read scan reports. I know when they say there's a measurable change. I know what this means. It’s been over four years since I've had a negative scan report. I look at that box of the Notes that we saved in case I die and have started to think about them in a different light. They don't mean anything to me now. Four years ago, five years ago, they meant everything, but now, they just represent the past. They don't represent hope anymore. They don't represent the future. When I look at myself and especially the relationship I have with Emma, what's next? What's the next phase look like? I started the Notes when Emma was in kindergarten. They weren't written for a young woman going to college. Still, I wrote a Note to Emma today. It was actually something that I remembered from a Note I wrote years ago. It is something that Mr. Rogers said: “You rarely have time for everything you want in life, so you need to make choices. Hopefully your choices can come from a deep sense of who you are.” We need something new. Emma's 18 and she's ready to go to college. I'm not sure what that looks like. The Notes aren’t an albatross yet, but they're definitely the past. And I think that it's time for me to let the past die. The last time I received a negative scan report, and the time before that, and the time before that, I made material changes to how I lived. Today, I don't live any differently. I’ve made a conscious effort to live as I'm supposed to live every single day. If a diagnosis of a mortal illness changes the way you live, then you haven’t been living the way you should. VOLUME III | 43