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Living life until the end

Coach Helen Snape by Helen Snape
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My mother has cancer. I haven’t written about it before as it is a personal, difficult thing to think about and I didn’t really know what to say. People often don’t really know what to say to me either.

Then recently I started listening to a podcast series, ‘You, me and the big C’ by three amazingly positive women all of whom have, or have had, cancer. It helped me realise that sharing our experiences can help other people.

Every two minutes someone in the UK is diagnosed with cancer. Whilst some cancers are curable, my mother’s cancer is not. She was diagnosed three years ago and in January she was given weeks or months left to live. She is still with us, getting weaker and her peacefulness and positivity is beautiful to witness.

I look for the positives. I have to. For example, I have spent a lot more quality time with my family this year. I have learnt to style and blow dry hair at the same time (well, kind of…). I have re-connected with old school friends. I have re-discovered the joy of reading a good book and found how writing can be cathartic.

The inevitable, my mother dying, has been hanging over me. Today, after listening to the three ladies and guest talk frankly about death, I feel a bit lighter about it. It helped me to realise that it is not dying or death per se that scares me, it is the loss of someone I love and the pain of seeing others going through the same. It is also the fear that I will crumble for a while. And there is a deep disquiet about the uncertainty as to when it will happen.

The uncertainty really bugs me, which is strange because none of us know when we might die. We know that we will all die, that is a certainty, we just don’t know when. When my mother was first diagnosed with cancer it was a big wake up call for me. I suddenly appreciated that my life was finite and I didn’t want to live half a life anymore. It contributed to me making some big changes in my life.

In the podcast they talked about how there are only two days in your life that are less than 24 hours in length. The first, Day 1, is the day you were born and Day 2 is the day you die. We spend a lot of time thinking about Day 1, when perhaps we really should be more focused on Day 2. Thinking about Day 2 compels me to want to grow as a person, live life to the full and have a positive impact on the lives of those I coach or interact with or touch in some way. It fuels my passion for coaching people to help them uncover their potential, explore possibilities and make choices that will give them a life worth living on their terms, free to be whatever and whoever they want to be.

I hope that sharing some of my experience and thoughts will help some people as they are confronted with the serious illness of a loved one or are grappling with big questions about their own mortality. And I hope it provides inspiration to live a full life. There is no going back. When you will look back after hopefully a long life, what will you want to have achieved and how will you want people to remember you?


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