What Would You Do If You Only Had Days To Live?

“A life is not important except in the impact it has on other lives.” - Jackie Robinson


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“A life is not important except

in the impact it has on other lives.” 

– Jackie Robinson

It’s a common question to hear nowadays in personal development workshops or to read in self-help books: “What would you do if you only had x days/months to live?” 

To be fair, when taken seriously the answers to this question can be insightful and often highlight areas where we need to put more of our focus. But the best thing about that question is that for most people, it isn’t reality.

But what would you do if it was?

Most of us can get too caught up with our problems in business and life, not realising that we are sacrificing life itself. It’s not until something really serious happens that we realise our other ‘challenges’ are really not worth being concerned about.

I was very taken with a recent blog post from best-selling author, Emma Hannigan, who lives in the same county as me in Ireland.

She revealed that doctors have told her she hasn’t long to live. She is only 45 years old.

In 2005, Emma discovered that she was carrying the Brca 1 cancer gene. This meant she had an 85pc chance of developing breast cancer and a 50pc chance of developing ovarian cancer. To reduce her risk to 5pc, she opted for preventative surgery. In 2006 she had a double mastectomy and had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed. But in 2007, in spite of the surgery, she was diagnosed with cancer for the first time and a 11 year battle ensued.

Emma was not one to waste time – authoring 13 best-selling books since the time of her surgery.

And even though I’ve never met Emma, we have mutual friends in common and they have always spoken of how ‘full of life’ she is.

But several days ago, the mum-of-two teenagers had, “the conversation I never wanted to have with my medical team” 

Some excerpts from her blog post last Friday are below: 

“All good things must come to an end. The time that I knew was borrowed must be given back soon, so it seems. The conversation I never wanted to have has been said. My medical team have thrown everything but the kitchen sink at this fight but all avenues have now been exhausted.”

“Faced with very little time can I tell you what screams out at me? Love.

Nothing else has much meaning anymore. Just the love I feel for the people I hold dear.” 

Despite her devastating news, the author was able to muster up words of guidance, for reading fans:

“Mind each other. Be kind to each other and hold those you love close by. Life is so very precious. We never know the day or hour that it will be whipped away. So fill your days with as much happiness as you can muster.

Stay away from drains, we all know them, they’re the people pull the good out of everything. The ones who suck the beauty from things and change colour to black and white. Leave them to fester – I think they’re secretly enjoying being grim. Instead, gravitate towards the light and laughter. Like a moth to a flame, remembering not to get your pretty wings burnt. You’ll like it better there, I promise.

Farewell and thank you, I am taking a bow. Until we meet again may all that is good and decent be yours, Love and light, Emma x”

My thoughts are with Emma and her family. Miracles can happen. But if not, Emma is a great example of the reason I’ve been writing this weekly post since 2008.

We all need inspiration and reminding of what’s most important in our lives. We all need support to get through the challenges that face us.


ps – Ironically Emma has a new book just out and after she shared news of her devastating diagnosis, a community of Irish authors and book-lovers are campaigning to help her book get to number one. Some books stores are also donating all profits made to the Irish Cancer Society.

If you feel like supporting this, you can do so here.

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