I Only Had Three Months to Live, 31 Months Ago: When a Terminal Diagnosis is Wrong

Opinion   |   Alex Schadenberg   |   Sep 20, 2013   |   1:15PM   |   Washington, DC

I was told I had “only a month to live”—31 months ago! On Valentine’s Day, 2011, my soul mate (wife) and I sat in my Veterans Administration doctor’s office as he delivered the stunning news that I had stage four pancreatic cancer.
We fought it with every form of chemo known to medicine. We made the 320 mile round trip from our home in Wisconsin to the VA clinic in Minneapolis so often that first year that we put over 8,000 miles on the car. It got easier when I turned 65. Medicare took over so I could get treatments closer to home.
After a CAT scan showed that I was not getting any worse, my nice young doctor pulled his chair very close, looked me in the eye and told me I had been given a gift. He had no idea why I was still alive or why the cancer wasn’t going anywhere.
Now there is no more chemo to try. In June, the prediction was that I have three to six months left. But, who knows?
I still enjoy a good game of golf. My friend Dick had a memorial golf bench made in my name. It sits in front of the clubhouse. I’m the only living person to ever sit on his own memorial bench. Dick said he got tired of carrying that bench in his truck for two years, so he just dropped it off.
The moral is, don’t give up. No doctor can accurately pinpoint how long a person has to live. I’ve lived a full and happy life, and it’s not over yet.

Larry Larson