Site icon Legacies From the LIVING Room: A Love-Grief Equation

The Lived Moment of Receiving a Terminal Diagnosis

What is a lived moment?

A “Lived Moment” is when you enter into a time as one person, and leave that time as another. Such a moment is when you hear the person you love most in the world has terminal cancer. After that moment nothing is ever the same again. Your world is forever changed. Here is my account from the early pages of my book- of my lived moment.

Our Lived moment hearing Stage IV nasopharyngeal cancer: A book excerpt

Despite the room’s floor-to-ceiling windows, the clinic room feels closed-in and dark. We sit stiffly on old wooden chairs, trying to convince ourselves that everything is going to be okay. David attempts humor by raising the exam chair as high as it can go. Laughing, he declares that he wants to look the doctor in the eye. Becky and I fail to see the fun of it. My sweaty palms are clasped together as I nervously steal a glance at the door, awaiting the doctor’s entrance. After the longest 20 minutes of my life, the doctor appears, stops at the door, and looks directly at David.

            “It’s metastatic nasopharyngeal cancer, behind your nose, and it’s spreading to your bones.”


            Silence fills the room. I look at David, clearly shocked. His face is blank. I realize he does not comprehend what this means. He lowers his chair back to the ground and stares blankly.

            I ask, “What stage?”


            The doctor pauses and looks at the floor. “Stage IV.”


            I quit breathing. I’m not prepared for that answer, and I know David isn’t either. David asks, “So how long do I have?”

            “If chemotherapy works, three to five years. If not, six months.” Those are the last words I hear. My brain shuts down.

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