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An opportunity to live

Some people, when faced with death, run scared, ignore it, do whatever they can to not think about it. When there is nowhere left to run – or no time left to run – they eventually have to confront it.  Faced with a less than positive prognosis, many people understandably do whatever they can to get more time.  It becomes the focus of their life.“How can I get more time?”  “What can I do to beat the odds?” They search for a way to add more time to their life. They want just a day, a week, a month longer.  They become willing to do whatever is necessary to get extra time, all the time forgetting that it is not time they are searching for, but life.  I did not choose that path.  The path I took was to do whatever I could to fit more life into my time.  What is time but the opportunity to live?

Four years ago I started on a journey that most people might think would be the worst experience of their lives. Of course it wasn’t pleasant; there are many other trips I would rather have taken, but this was to be my path.  Four years ago I was introduced to Timmy (read about Timmy here
).  I didn’t know anything about Timmy at the time, other than that he had taken residency in my brain.  

For these last four years I have had cancer; a highly aggressive, rare brain cancer, with a terminal prognosis. Every single day, the knowledge that at some point in time it will kill me has been front and centre in my mind.  It was supposed to happen sooner rather than later.  And yet here I am, three years past my expiry date, travelling in the realm of the medical unknown. This journey is generally considered to be a dark and scary one. A journey that not only shortens, but completely consumes your life.  I decided I would travel it differently.

I have been told by many that they admire my strength in facing this journey, facing the inevitability of my death from brain cancer.  Having spent so many years in Martial Arts, I have met many people who misunderstand strength. Sadly, many of them have studied the Martial Arts but have yet to understand what strength is.  They think their strength is measured in terms of how fast they can run, how much they can lift, and how many people they can beat.  That is not strength.  That is an expression of ego, often hiding fear and insecurity.

True strength is not about beating someone.  True strength is finding the ability to help someone even amongst all the battles within yourself that you are facing.  True strength is something we can all show.  Life is not a challenge to be beaten. It is not something to be won.  It is not a competition. Life is an opportunity.  An opportunity to experience it fully and openly – both the ups and the downs. To me that is strength. True strength is facing and embracing life, not beating death.

My strength doesn’t come from facing the inevitability of my death from brain cancer. My strength comes from accepting Timmy and choosing to step up to the challenge of living as much life as I can fit into each of my seconds in every day. For me living as much life as I can means teaching, helping and giving
 (check out my vision blog here).

I’ve been asked many times, “Isn’t it hard?”  And the honest truth is, of course cancer is hard. But choosing the way I deal with it, not really.  It was just a decision.  Seeing that it was just a decision was the tricky bit.  Having just been delivered the news of a terminal prognosis, thoughts and emotions raced through me like the bustling chaos of the New York Stock Exchange, all of them yelling, screaming, demanding to be heard. Stepping back from the chaos to get perspective on the fact that I had just been told I was “terminally ill”, the best choice was abundantly clear.

I mean, really what choice did I have?  I could have complained about how unfair it was.  I could have let it define the quality of the life I had left. Or I could choose the path I did.  To live what I had left as fully as I could.

We spend so much of our time distracting ourselves from the fear of dying that in the end we stop ourselves from truly living.

We are all scared of death.  It’s important to be scared of death.  If we weren’t, then we would be a danger to ourselves.  The really scary part is that we all have the same outcome.  We are all going to die.  But we delude ourselves with the idea that we are too young, too fit, too healthy. We spend so much of our time distracting ourselves from the fear of dying that in the end we stop ourselves from truly living.

We talk about living in the now and yet we are constantly living in the future or the past.  We say we will do it tomorrow, we will make the change tomorrow.  We don’t say what we really want to say to our loved ones.  We are scared, and hope and wait for the right time to come.  But there is no right time.  What if the only time was now?  What would you do then?  What will you do with this next second?  What will you do with your opportunity to live?

Thanks for reading!

Cameron Gill

Yes, I have cancer!

Want to learn more about Cameron Gill’s journey, his legacy, and his legacy projects? CLICK HERE for Cam’s official Facebook legacy page. We have heaps more of his story to share, so like and follow to stay updated.

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