I’m Not Afraid of Dying of My Illness. I’m Afraid of Not Living.

On Sunday, it will be exactly five years and eight months after we found out I had cancer. Two months after they did surgery and more surgery, they declared my cancer in remission. On Sunday, after five years of no reoccurrence, I will be declared cured.

Unless I develop another type of cancer in the next week, I’m reaching a huge milestone. Ever since learning I had cancer — and now knowing I have a type of Ehlers-Danlos syndrome that can cause death — I decided to live my life a little differently.

When I told people I had cancer, many asked if I was scared. The same question comes up when they find out I don’t have the less dangerous form of Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome.

I’m not afraid of dying. Yes, it used to terrify me, but I’m at a point in my journey where it doesn’t anymore.

Every single time I have a splitting headache or chest pain yes, one of the first thoughts I have is, “Whelp, here’s the fatal aneurysm.” That thought is usually fleeting, and if there is a real concern I go to the ER.

As of yet it hasn’t been an aneurysm or my cancer coming back.

I had to shift my thinking into accepting I could go at any minute. Random violence is so much more prevalent, so no one is ever really safe.

I might just be aware of my own mortality than your average 26-year-old. I don’t think many of my friends have living wills and advanced directives.

I no longer fear death. Yeah it would suck to die in the prime of life, but I’m not afraid.

I’m terrified of not living though. I’m not talking about dying. I’m talking about not putting myself out there, not trying new things and not making myself uncomfortable.

I want to make the most of every single day.

I want to make a difference in the lives of those around me.

I want to experience all life has to offer.

If I sit in my bed (because I can’t get hurt) it’s safe, and I feel sorry for myself, then I’m not really living.

I want to meet new people and continue to learn.

I learned in order to truly live, you have to be willing to throw yourself into what you are doing 100 percent, even if it’s uncomfortable. Being a passive observer while life passes me by is more terrifying than having my cancer come back or dying from an aneurysm.

This week is huge — I’m cancer free. I officially survived!

Every day I wake up I also celebrate the fact I have another day to live, and I soak up every minute of it.

We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

Thinkstock photo by Credit: RossHelen

Find this story helpful? Share it with someone you care about.

Related to Cancer

In Las Vegas, a Cancer Survivor and LAPD Officer's Lives Crossed Paths

Last week, the U.S. witnessed one of its darkest days in history when gunman Stephen Paddock opened fire at the Routh 91 Harvest Festival, injuring over 500 and killing 58. The world may never forget his name and its connection to such tragedy, but there are many other names that should be remembered for their [...]
Lindsey Stirling Mark Ballas DWTS

Lindsey Stirling Honors Father's Loss to Throat Cancer on 'Dancing With the Stars'

On Monday night’s episode of “Dancing with the Stars,” violinist Lindsey Stirling honored the memory of her father with an emotional performance of a Vienna Waltz. “Tonight’s dance was so special. I love you Dad and I know you were there with me.” Tonight’s dance was so special. I love you Dad and I know [...]
meghan mccain the view debut

In 'The View' Debut, Meghan McCain Shares What It's Like to Watch Her Dad Face Cancer

Monday morning, during her debut as permanent co-host on “The View,” Meghan McCain shared a heartfelt message about her father, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), and his recent brain cancer diagnosis. “I haven’t talked about it yet, and I knew this would be hard,” she said. “When you hear ‘cancer,’ a nuclear explosion goes off in your [...]

Belle Gibson Fined Over $321,000 for Lies About Cancer and Donations

On Thursday, Belle Gibson, an Australian blogger and social media influencer who lied about having cancer and donating sales of her app to charity, was ordered by a Melbourne federal court to repay over $321,000 to the state of Victoria. Gibson said she developed a terminal brain tumor in 2009 and only had four months [...]