Chemo is not working.

The last body scan I did showed that the last two chemo treatments have not been working. Instead, the tumor has even grown slightly since January. I wasn’t expecting anything when I met up with my doctor a week ago, so I wasn’t really surprised. But it’s not good news of course. As tougher chemo can be lethal due to my heart condition, they now want to use radiation to shrink the tumor first before they go any further.

The good news is that they are still continuing treatment, so the doctors have not given up. I have not been given a death sentence. Not yet. I asked my doctor what would happen if the tumor just keeps on growing and he said that most people with the same diagnosis have died of cardiac arrest due to heart fibrillation. Then it would be over in a second he said. So, should I be scouting for burial plots, sign an agreement to donate my body to medical research or draw up the itinerary for my funeral? It’s hard to know how much one should prepare for a possible imminent death. Or rather how much one actually wants to. In a way, it gives me some sense of control to think about it.

Most of us live with the illusion that we are immortal or at least that death does not concern us; it happens to other people. And when we hear of someone who is very ill, it is easy to deceive ourselves that we can stand on the sideline and be spectators. However, the truth is that anyone of you reading this may die before I do. Of course, the probability that I will die ahead of you is much higher, but statistics do not mean anything to the single person, it is only applicable on an aggregate level. Now, I’m not saying that to scare you, only to urge you to think about your mortality from time to time. Are you happy with what you are doing or would you change something if you could? Do not assume that what you have now will remain, everything can change in an instant. Yes, here I go with the clichés again, but it doesn’t make it less true.

Have really been struggling with a feeling of meaninglessness the last months. If it is all over soon, what is the point in trying to live? But then, that trail of thought could also be applicable to my whole life and is life then meaningless because we all die in the end? I don’t think so. Although I find it hard to be completely convinced. It’s daunting to think about the fact that if I would go soon, many of you would probably live on for another 50 years. That does make me very jealous to be honest, but I don’t reproach you for it. I wish everyone a long and happy life. I’m just hoping that I will also be able to stick around. And with that said, I guess I really don’t deem life meaningless.

Bad things happen to people all the time. People die every day whether due to illness or someone wanting to inflict harm such as in armed conflicts, terrorist acts and assault or simply by a freak accident. But I can’t help wondering sometimes if someone is out to get me. First by giving me AML, a rare diagnosis for a woman my age (AML is most common among men above 65) and then when that didn’t work they placed a malign tumor in my heart, which is even more rare. But I don’t believe that there is anyone doing this to me, even though it sometimes would feel great to have someone to kick and scream at and make them tell me why this has happened. It is just bad luck and frankly, if this is what will kill me, there are worse ways to go.

To conclude, I want to recommend you to watch the program A time to live (BBC, 2017) about terminally ill people and their thoughts on life. You find it at or via Swedish UR Play.

6 Replies to “Chemo is not working.”

  1. Kära Hanna, jag sänder dig så många tankar och värme till dig. Tänker på dig ofta. Det du skriver är så sant och så vist. Stor kram <3

  2. Det tog för lång tid att komma på något vettigt att skriva till dig, har fortfarande inte knäckt det. Under tiden så får du en virtuell styrkekram! Tänker ofta på dig 🙂

  3. Jag har nu sett dokumentären “Tid att leva”. Tack för att du delade den, Hanna. Den var inspirerande, minst sagt. Det är välgörande att bli påmind om att döden kan inträffa när som helst och att vi alla är på väg mot samma öde.

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