Health And Wellness

How I Found Hope In A Terminal Prognosis — After Giving Myself Permission To Die

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man standing by leaves

Near the end of August 2019, I was in a horrific place. I was ready to die. I wanted to die.

I gave myself permission to die!

Although my cancer journey starts out bleak, it turns inspiring. My story explains where I was then — both mentally and physically.

But, amazingly, I rallied to become a different person. I became an encouragement to many. Maybe my story will give you encouragement and motivate you to take positive steps.

The horror starts.

Near the end of August 2019, I was standing in my bathroom, brushing and flossing my teeth. I knew my bones were fragile from my bone marrow cancer.

They could break easily. But, I did not know how fragile I was.

I twisted to the left about 90 degrees to throw my dental floss into the trashcan. Instantly, my right femur snapped in half.

I crashed to the floor. I broke a couple of ribs. My right humerus also split in two. The pain was excruciating.

While lying on the floor, I saw my right leg and right arm in positions that I could never have bent them. I screamed for my wife who was in the other room.

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My life was fleeting past my mind’s eye!

I thought I could never have a quality of life from that point on. My cancer was incurable, and I had already outlived my oncologist’s prognosis by a year.

Quality of life meant everything to me. Longevity was never my goal.

I could not imagine myself moving forward. This was the end, and I was ready to die. Life could not be enjoyed any longer — or so I thought.

Emergency services transported me to the hospital to repair my right femur or I would have bled to death from a punctured femoral artery.

I rejected other treatment and was sent to a hospice hospital to die. I was catheterized, drugged, and depressed.

I knew I had outlived my oncologist's original prognosis.

I gave myself permission to die.

In the hospice hospital, I was bedridden. I had to use a bedpan. I was constipated and was given many drugs in addition to narcotics.

I was miserable. And I knew I would die in that bed.

As fate would have it, Hurricane Dorian was threatening to strike the hospital in the first week of September 2019.

The hospital was ordered to evacuate all patients. They had no place to send me. So, my wife scampered to secure a hospital bed and I was transported to my home.

The horror ends...

Still in hospice at home, still catheterized, and still taking all those drugs, I was convinced by my wife to "get it together."

Her tough love convinced me that I was a survivor, not a victim.

She clearly explained how well I had done on my unconventional cancer protocols beginning with my diagnosis until this terrible accident. But, now, I needed to get back on track.

My wife arranged for a physical therapist to come into our home. He was able to get me out of bed and walking with a walker within a couple of weeks.

The catheter finally came out; I began to wean off the drugs, and I returned to my unconventional cancer protocols. I was on the mend.

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I revoked hospice!

My wife is a pillar of strength. She showed me, in no uncertain terms, that I had more to live for and give to society. She pulled me up when I was down — and I was more depressed than ever.

No one should ever have to sink to the depths of depression as I had.

Yet, I was able to muster my spirit to live because of my exceptional wife. I returned to the motivated person whom I once was.

The tables had turned, Now, I gave myself permission to thrive. And I thrived!

Fast forward to today: I am a beacon of hope and inspiration. I have not cured my cancer and I am not in remission.

But, my PET scan in May 2020 showed no active cancer cells in my entire body. And I’m not taking any daily prescription medications.

Looking back on my cancer journey.

There is a deep and solid message to my tale. I went from a diagnosis of incurable cancer in September 2018 with only three to six months to live to a survivor with great hope.

Then, in August 2019, a sudden and devastating set of fractures occurred on my right side. I not only fractured my body, but I also fractured my spirit as a survivor.

Fracturing the right side of my body made me doubt myself and my ability to live a quality life thereafter. I sank into an abyss of despair.

It was only the fate of an impending hurricane, my stubborn and persistent wife, and eventually my renewed belief in myself that brought me where I am today.

I am a walking miracle. I walk outside a mile every day weather permitting. And I do modified bodyweight exercises inside my home about three days a week.

Once every seven to 10 days, I do a few minutes of high-intensity interval training that gets me into an anaerobic state.

My oncologist says he has no other cancer patient that has done as well as I have done — and without chemotherapy!

I have been to the edge and back.

Lying in a hospice bed, seeing and hearing patients dying around me, was humbling. Knowing my life was about to end was spiritual.

But turning all this doom and gloom around was cathartic.

We all are going to die. I just prefer to die on my own terms.

You can do exactly what I have done. If you're in a life-threatening situation or if you know someone who is, there are other paths to take.

Attitude is paramount; independent research is critical, and a will to live is everything.

Although I gave myself permission to die, I now give myself permission to thrive and make a difference in this world.

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Dr. Al Danenberg is a periodontist and was in private practice for 44 years. For more information, visit his website.

This article was originally published at Reprinted with permission from the author.