My brother was diagnosed with acute leukemia in April of this year.  He is only 24 years old.  He hid his illness from us for a while.  He also refused to take any treatment that his doctor recommended.

It was hard for me to understand my brother’s refusal to treat his cancer.  He’s still very young and has so many years ahead of him.  Even if treating his cancer would give him only 2-3 years to live, why not?  And what if he was cured for longer or for the rest of his life?  Acute leukemia can go into remission.  There’s nothing to lose, but a lot to gain.

My brother doesn’t want to prolong his suffering.  If he dies, he dies.  I guess he believes that by treating his cancer, it would give him more time to think about his death, more time to build relationships, and then he will eventually hurt himself and those around him when he dies.  (Doesn’t this happen to all of us anyway? It’s just a matter of time).

I struggled with his decision for some time.  Then I realized that it’s his life.  I can’t tell him how to live, especially when he’s facing such a hard situation.  It’s his life.

This is how I feel about life in general.  It’s my life, and please let me live it the way I want to.  You are allowed to express your opinions.  You can give me advice.  But in the end, let me make my decisions with the information that I have; let me live my life.

I have never told someone what he or she should or shouldn’t do.  Everyone has always told me that I’m a great listener.  One of the reasons why is because growing up, I’ve always felt that I didn’t have enough experience or knowledge to give someone else advice.  For example, I’ve never experienced a break up, so when my friends came to me after a bad break up, I’d just listen, empathize, validate their feelings, and help them process their thoughts.  And I wasn’t the type to suggest we key his car or toilet paper his house.  So, this habit of mine has been with me since.  No advice, just listen.  Who am I to tell you what to do when it’s your life?

I also feel that if I don’t like it when someone tells me how to live my life, I shouldn’t do it to another person.  (And I don’t.  If you’re wondering, I didn’t tell my brother what I believe he should do.  I asked because I wanted to know and just listened).  Everyone has his or her own standard of living.  Living is a very arbitrary thing.  Money, career, reputation, political power, family; just to name a few things that people live for.

Why should it matter to others how I live my life?  The decisions I make are mine and if they end up as mistakes, I’ll own up to them and take the consequences.  I don’t care what other people view me as because I know myself and the actions I’ve taken.  I don’t care if people think I’m living my life “wrong.”  Don’t tell me I won’t go to heaven or I’m living a life of sin just because I don’t practice your religion.  Don’t tell me I’m a selfish person because I started to say no when before I’ve always said yes.  Don’t tell me I’m a bitch when I stand up for myself or the people I love whom you’re stepping on.  Actually, on second thought, say all you want because I don’t care.  It’s my life.  I’m happy and content with it.  Nothing you say will ruin it for me.

Those who don’t know me well may think that I don’t care because I don’t butt in when they’re having problems or give them advice.  It’s not because I don’t care.  I do, I just don’t believe it’s my position to say anything, especially when you haven’t seeked me out.  If you seek my help, I shall give it.  (I shall listen, empathize, and express my opinions on the matter. I won’t tell you what to do).  But if I hear about your problems from around the grapevine, I won’t say anything.  I’ve had experiences where people tell me I’m too nosy, it’s none of my business, or they want to be left alone.  That’s why if I don’t butt in, it’s not that I don’t care.  I care enough about you to respect your decision to not want to share your problems with me. (Hopefully that makes sense).

Everyone should live their lives according to their standard—no one else’s.  I’m not telling murderers, rapists, abusers, and etc to continue hurting other people.  I’m not condoning those things.  I’m just simply saying to live your life your way, just as long as you’re not committing a crime.  Find your own happiness.  We all have that simple right.

4 thoughts on “Life

  1. Hi Mb, so sorry to hear about your brother. I lost a brother myself not too long ago also to cancer. At the end he stop fighting because he feel it’s no use and he rather save the money for his son than to continue this losing battle.
    I can relate to you about being called selfish for saying no after always say yes or people think I need to be saved just because I don’t follow certain religion.. and also just last year I lose a friendship just because someone puring their heart out to me and (I thought) needed my advise, somehow my advise is offensive to her and she got so angry and decide not to be my friends anymore. Regardless how many time I apologize to her.
    II pray for your family, for your brother and you to be given streght for what lies ahead of you. Keep strong.


  2. Poor Maibao. I’m so sorry to hear about this. Hopes and prayers for you and your brother and family. It’s always tough dealing with a terminal illness, but it’s not about how you die, it’s about how you live. He is very brave to not take any meds or seek treatment at all. So now, make the best of what time you have left and remember those times always. There’s that Tim McGraw song… “Live Like You Were Dying”. I’d like to dedicate that to you and your brother.


  3. Hello, MaiBao. I am so sorry to hear about your brother and my prayers go out to you and your family. At the same time, I agree with HmonGuru’s suggestion of making the best of whatever time you got left with your brother. Stay strong too.


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