With these lovely thoughts and
a;rmations echoing in my mind, I
embarked into a new world of
never-ending scans and oncologist
consultations. I learned the vocabulary of my disease, how to interpret
test results, and what constitutes a
credible source on Google. I was a
motivated learner to the point of
taking notes for the speech I knew
I would give, someday.
But, the more I learned, the
more the little voice inside me grew
louder. Yes, I am positive. I do have
tremendous support and an extraordinary medical team. However,
I also have an aggressive, rarely
researched type of breast cancer
that at some point will become more
debilitating and then fatal.
It’s hard to put that into words
other people want to hear. I wanted
to say, mine is a condition to be managed, not a problem to be solved. But I
didn’t know how to say it, until Gen.
Hayden gave me the words.
Someday, you will need this sentence. And you, like me, will have
the chance to manage your unique
situation well. You may use these
words for a short or long time.
Whatever your circumstances,
dying is the part of life we all seem
to want to avoid. I remember a hat
from years ago. Eat Right. Exercise.
Die Anyway! People always wore it
with a laugh, not realizing they were
expressing their deepest fear. As we live, we’re all dying—it’s
just that some of us have a glimpse at the expiration date. ■
Acondition to be managed, not a problem to be solved. “Wait, what was that?” I thought, “and who’s talking?” Thank goodness for the ability to rewind on a DVR cable
box. Retired U.S. Air Force Gen. Michael Hayden, being interviewed on CBS Morning News, had uttered the sentence I’d been
On January 24, 2017, I became a speaker diagnosed with stage IV,
metastatic, triple-negative breast cancer. My family, friends,
friends of friends, and NSA colleagues rushed to my side with
love and support.
“With your positive spirit/outlook/attitude, you can beat this,
I know you can.”
“We’re all pulling/praying/thinking of you.”
CHRIS CLARKE-EPSTEIN, CSP,
2014 Cavett Award Recipient, is
currently NED (no evidence of disease,
spoken in “cancer”) and lives on a month-to-month hiatus from chemo. Since her
speaking calendar has slowed down,
she’s been teaching writing via webinar.
BY CHRIS CLARKE;EPSTEIN, CSP
A condition to be managed,
not a problem to be solved
Be sure to listen
to Chris’ interview
on the September
edition of Voices
GETTING READY FOR THE BIGGEST CHANGE
For more suggestions on managing end-of-life
issues, read Chris’ article “Getting Ready for the
Biggest Change.” You can download it at