Why am I not DEAD yet?

by Ossama Suleiman

In 2009, I was diagnosed with glioblastoma, a grade 4 brain cancer.

After surgery, the oncologist came back with the sad news that my statistics look quite ugly. He gave me treatments for 9 months, and said I have 6 months to one year to live.

I was engaged at that time, preparing to marry in a few months. Following my diagnosis, my fiancee and I broke up — I didn’t see why I would leave a widow behind and break her heart.

I had no desire to pursue anything further in life…

It was a time of complete shutdown.

I wanted to quit my job, however my managers managed to convince me to stay with a relaxed schedule.

They started to teach me statistics again.

An average of 1 year, they told me, could mean some people die in 3 years, while others die in 6 months, and that I should have the positivity to assume I’m on the long-term survival side.

By continuing to go to work, I kept myself busy, not thinking too much about my cancer.

I travelled, did some of the stuff I always wanted to do, visited places I always wanted to go.

I started to revisit my friends, hang out with those I really liked, got rid of those who made me feel sad, or felt pity for me in an ugly way. There are those who just don’t know what to tell you, then it gets awkward.

I don’t blame them.

It is not something you want to talk about with everyone. You want to feel good, and not be down all the time.

I started to be more of a minimalist. I had no desire in all the nice stuff I had always dreamt of. My life seemed to have come to a stop.

However, over time, I started to realize that I’m happier. I had special concerns for my parents, and I started spending more time with them.

With all my family actually. They became the joy of my life.

Too sad I never realized that earlier.

Fast forward to 8 years later, I’m still around. Although the cancer hit back several times, and my left side is now paralyzed, but I’m still active, going to work, participating in charities, trying to keep myself busy and active.

I was 32 when I was diagnosed, now hitting the 40’s I feel more mature. I’m guessing age is an important factor in how we take such news.

My situation has led to the following personal conclusions:

1. No one actually knows when you are going to die. Not even the best doctors in town. All the doctors have are statistics.

2. Happiness is in the small and little things. Time with family, reading a good book, listening to a nice music, enjoying a movie. Spending time on the beach, watching the sunset, nature, forest , a bird perching on the tree.

3. Through charity work I started to appreciate what I have, there are just so many underprivileged people out there who would dream of what we take as granted: running water, electricity, food, medicine, family.

4. Each night, I count at least 10 things I’m grateful for in my life.

5. I also started to keep a journal of the things that make me really happy and doing more of that.
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