John Cocks was a well known TV personality in New Zealand.
A builder on one of those home improvement shows that seem to be on every channel.
He's just been given two years to live - what was his reaction?
"It doesn't worry me in the slightest. I feel happy about it as weird as that will sound."
Happy? When you've been given the worst news in your life?!
What does he know that we don't?
The diagnosis finally got him moving with a long delayed marriage proposal.
"I put the old knee on the ground and said, 'Do you want to marry me and make yourself the happiest woman in the world?'
She said 'Okay'," he laughed."
I've always thought that if I could be ok with the idea of my death, that I wouldn't worry about anything else that much.
I have had people pass on and my friend Jo is currently terminal.
I was discussing Jo's situation the other night with some mutual friends.
I started to say, "If I was terminal - ," before Rachel interrupted me saying, "You are terminal."
I tend to forget that.
I like to think of myself as funny, in my head I'm a crack up guy but I'm probably only funny inside the confines of my own mind.
Because I've had some health issues over the years, I've seen Doctors pretty regularly.
I had a lump on my neck once so I went to my Doctor to get it checked out.
He asked me to turn my head to the left, then to the right, took a good look at me and paused before seriously noting, "it's nothing to worry about, it's definitely not cancer."
With what I considered was razor sharp wit, I snapped back, "oh well, you can't win them all!"
Another time I asked a different Doctor, who I had seen regularly over many years, if he would like to hear a joke.
He said, "sure."
"Well Doc," I began, "there's this guy who’s feeling really sick, he sees himself in the mirror and looks a little green, so he makes an appointment to go see his Doctor.
He walks in to the consulting room, describes his symptoms, and the Doctor looks him over for a long time without saying anything.
The Doctor leaves the room and finally returns 20 minutes later.
As the Doctor opens the door the man blurts out, "Doc! Am I gonna die?"
The Doctor says, "No."
That's the joke, but my Doctor didn’t get it, so I felt a bit silly.
Why do we feel the need to make jokes about death and sex?
I guess because we're afraid.
I heard a joke on a talk show last week, "if you die while you're making love, you can come and go at the same time!"
I've always been fascinated with the possibility, power and potential of the mind to turn things around.
The mind can turn pain into a positive experience, can recognize the good in the "bad," and has the ability to transform suffering into beauty.
John Cocks said he was "happy" with his diagnosis, because he felt there was a reason behind it, asking, "why would I get it unless I was here to help people with [cancer]?"
Victor Frankel, a psychiatrist who spent time in a Nazi concentration camp, wrote that “Those who have a 'why' to live, can bear with almost any 'how'” - meaning that if we can find a reason to keep going, we can overcome great difficulties.
We are so quick to label things as "good" and "bad."
And not just bad - 100% bad.
But it is rarely the case that something is 100% bad.
People have described getting cancer - even terminal cancer - as a blessing.
In the new BBC documentary A Time To Live, award-winning film-maker Sue Bourne interviewed several terminal cancer patients.
Fiona, 32, recently married and given less than 12 months to live, says, "I’ve come to realise this cancer is a gift - a gift I never asked for, obviously - but it’s forced me to rethink my life."
But surely she would still give the ‘gift’ of cancer back at the first opportunity?
"Actually no. Not if it meant going back to the way I was living before. My life has got quality now. I’m not on the treadmill any more. I’m happy, genuinely happy."
Kevin, 52, a banker and Father of three, seems invincible.
Last year, when he was supposed to be dead, he completed the toughest marathon in the world, a 150-mile desert race over six days.
"Because I can," he says, "it gives me a focus, a strength."
Kevin is also committed to raising money for prostate cancer.
What's the common denominator that keeps us going?
Victor Frankel,in the midst of a concentration camp, used to have imaginary conversations with his wife, and discovered that …
Love is the ultimate and the highest goal to which man can aspire.
But what if that love doesn't come from anyone else?
What if your lifelong dream is to be married but you're running out of time because of a terminal illness?
May Chen, 28, is single, has terminal breast cancer and has always dreamed of the perfect wedding.
So in a wonderful "bucket list" wish, she decided to get wedding photos.
The mind has awesomely powerfully transformative power.
So to answer my question - how do people with terminal illness have such great attitudes?
Victor Frankel, observed that
Everything can be taken from a man but one thing : … to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.
I hope that thought inspires you as much as it inspires me!
wishing you the best of days,
Harley M Storey
"The Life Coach Toolman!"
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