Chasing My Shadow as a Cancer Patient in Talk Therapy



Harvard Medical School sends out an email when an esteemed faculty member passes away, and more often than not I delete it without clicking. I feel shame for not taking the time to read about the death of colleague whose life was devoted to medicine or science, but I do think about death a lot for someone my age — perhaps too much.

As a Stage 4 kidney cancer patient at age 35, I ruminate more about legacy than I’d like. When I have encouraging follow up scans, as I did this month, the topic becomes less urgent, but I never stop wondering about the aftermath of my looming death — whether it will be this year, five years from now, or some fantastical version of later life that I am capable of imagining only on my most aspirational days.

I was a mere assistant professor of psychiatry when I learned that the statistical odds were that I’d most likely die before my career had a chance to take off. Would anyone care about the 20 or so academic publications I poured my heart and mind into these last five years? I always imagined that I would have the next 30 to contribute something of lasting value. Knowing what I do now, I sometimes wonder if that time and energy should have been spent in other ways.

My ruminations become more intense when they transition to what I might leave behind in my personal and family life. Which of my older family members will have to endure the cruel task of attending my funeral? Will my wife be able to find happiness while being a widow who lovingly raises our little boy? He’s only 2 years old now. Will he even remember me when this is all over?



Sahred From Source link Health

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