People Living With A Terminal Illness Share Their Stories.

Living with a terminal illness may sound like a death sentence to some, but for the majority of these AskReddit users, it's just another reason to live an even fuller life and prove that, illness or no illness, they are going to continue pushing forward.

Source list available at the end. 

I'm 27. Last year, I was diagnosed with mixed germ cell cancer all around my chest, lungs, and heart. Not terminal yet, but with a high chance of getting there soon, all of the surgeries and chemo have not gotten rid of it. It is wrapped around my heart now. Bone marrow transplant is my next and last option. It has less than a 50/50 chance of working due to the type of cancer and the location. If it doesn't work, there's nothing more to really try. I'll have probably a few years left depending on how fast it grows, and if I decide to take any of the terrible extra chemo, I'll maybe buy another year or so.

I am still on a massive amount of medications for pain and from the surgeries. I can't be active anymore because the chemo destroys your body. This really sucks because I was just starting to get a lot more active. I can't think well anymore because the chemo destroys your brain. It sucks, but many people are worse off in life. I've also had a pretty good and adrenaline filled life thus far, so I'm rather accepting of death if it comes.

Right now, it's hitting me hard because I have to say yes or no to the bone marrow transplant in the next week. There are a ton of downsides to going through with the transplant, not to mention, how sick I will be. No idea what I'm going to decide yet.


I was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis before birth. The doctors said that I wouldn't lived past 5. I just turned 18 about 3 months ago. The life expectancy is currently 37, and I'm fine with that. Since I've had this condition from birth, I've kind of learned how to cope with it. I have awesome friends who do so much for me, and I love them. I plan to go on to college for pre-law, go to law school, and spend the rest of my days doing lawyer stuff. It's what I love. 


I have cystic fibrosis. These day, the average life expectancy is around 38. I'm 35. I never really gave it too much consideration growing up, or during my 20s. However, now that I have two adorable small children, I am really worried about leaving them. On the plus side, my lung function is insanely good, so I'm not likely to shuffle off anytime soon.


It's not currently terminal, but I had received a liver transplant when I was 19. I'm now nearly 27, and my liver is 55. I also have epilepsy. I could go into rejection tomorrow for all I know. I could have a seizure, or die of SUDEP. But nobody knows exactly when they are going to go. Maybe I'll live to be 80. I hope I will, but I am also realistic with my expectations. I'll probably die of some form of skin, blood, or lymphatic cancer since my anti-rejection meds raise my risk of those tenfol


My best friend died at 21 from AML. She beat it, but then it came back really quickly again. She never told us it was terminal, just that she needed chemo etc. We had her 21st birthday on the Wednesday, and she died in her sleep after we went home.

I'm glad she never told me. She wrote us all an individual note explaining her reasons. It took a long time to heal, but she had come to terms with the cards that she'd been dealt. If she had of told me, I wouldn't of dealt with it and that's a massive burden for someone so sick to carry.


PKD patient here. I am 35. Two years ago, I lost my right kidney. I still have my left kidney, but it works at just 70%. Unfortunately, it's just a matter of time before I end up losing it to the same condition, which means I'm basically in lots of trouble. It could happen tomorrow or in twelve years.

If I lose kidney function, I am condemned to die attached to a dialysis machine.

Nobody wants to hire me at this age, especially with this condition, which is the main reason I am in trouble. I am not technically a disabled or a terminal ill patient, so I cannot apply for a subside or anything.


I have PKD, and it's hard. I'm only 16, and they've already started telling me how I'll need a transplant. Sometimes, I wonder if my mom would have had an abortion if my dad had known that he had PKD. It also sucks because I could possibly give it to my kids. So, I possibly shouldn't have any when I'm older. My dad has PKD, and he's 44. He used to smoke and his kidneys are at about 12% because of it. He has to go on dialysis right away, and he's having a hard time getting disability. Sometimes life sucks, and sometimes it's good. 


Doctors say that they can't do anything anymore, and I will have to wait for the end. I refuse to accept this. Since I study medicine development and fundamental biochemistry, I know a bit about my disease, my odds, and what might be possible. Let me tell you, doctors are quick to give up. Even though I went out of my way to write a short review of the literature with references, stating my odds, and noting the possibility of a cure, they chose to ignore it and said that they didn't want to treat me anymore (Actually, the younger doctors were on my side, but the older ones were not).

Since then I have been searching for my own therapy. Mostly clinical trials though. I'm currently in one, and each time, it's a nerve-wrecking quest to find one. I hate that I have to do this all by myself with no support from those who are paid to do it.

Thank god that I'm stable for now, but every month could be my last. I'm still working full-time as a PhD student, and every now and then, I have to go to the hospital for treatment. I try to live a 'normal' life in spite of all of these things that make me abnormal. Working and interacting with my colleagues makes me feel a bit more normal, but it also highlights that my life is everything but. It's also why I game a lot, so that I can forget about reality.

I hate this life that I'm condemned to. My life was never easy to begin with, and every moment was an uphill battle. I almost pulled myself out of the hole that I was in, but only to be cast back in even deeper with this diagnosis. But because we only have one life with no reloads or extra lives, I have to deal with it. I imagine that when I die and all of the ghost/spirit stuff is real, I will be a vengeful spirit due to all of the things that were done to me and all of the things that I couldn't do.

It has also made me more cynical. Doctors are incompetent, or even worse, they will actively hinder you from getting treatment. The very same people who swore the Oath and get to paid to do so.

Do you know the saying that goes, "Only when you are in deep trouble will you learn who your true friends are." Guess what happens when you become ill. You just become a pity object at best, while at most times, people will stop associating with you (People fake a lot). Thank god for the few people who actually became closer to me after they learned of my affliction.

For the people who are wondering why I'm not going to do stuff like travel or blow my money, I was never the type to enjoy those kinds of thing. All I wished for was a comfortable life with a happy wife and children. All I wished for was to realize my ideals. This world is messed up, and all I wanted was to make it a little less of a hellhole. Instead, as a "reward," I'm ill and all those corrupt individuals are out there live an extravagant life. Also, blowing all of my money away would mean an acceptance of death, and I'm not ready to die yet. I have so much to live for, and I will use very ounce of strength that I have left to make my envisioned future a reality.


I'm 23 and have a brain tumor. It started like a migraine and then mental illness, until they found out. I went to chemo, and it didn't work. I tried other treatments, but they just made me weaker. The doctors told me that the only thing left was hope and faith and that I had probably 6 months left.

I'm in college, and I will not drop it until I die- honestly. Not many people that I know, know this about me, and I'm okay with that. As far as I know, I could die tomorrow in a car accident. So, it doesn't make me any more unhappy knowing what "my time left" is. However, since then I do stop and appreciate life more often.


My disability is terminal. Doctors thought that I would be died by the age of 2, but I'm turning 28 in a few days. I've realized that it is a progressive disease. Throughout the years, I've lost a lot of physical abilities, but I've managed to keep a pretty good head about it. I've really lived my life well, and I plan to continue doing so- until death comes knocking. Sometimes, I get scared and sad about potentially not having the same opportunities as others, but I try my best not to wallow in it.


I was diagnosed a little over a month ago with apical ballooning syndrome and several aortic dissections. They said that they can't do much about the dissections due to the condition of my heart. There is a very small chance of extending time by eliminating any and all stress, stimulants, and such. Unfortunately, my fianc left me with our 8-month-old daughter, on top of the news, so relieving stress kind of got thrown out. They said that I may have 1-2 years, or it could be the next 5 months due to the size of one of the tears. I am currently on a heart donor list, but that's probably not going to happen considering how that process works. I've been to four cardiologists for second opinions, including the heart centre at Emory hospital in Atlanta. My funds will have greatly diminished by now. It's a weird feeling to come to this realization.


A friend of mine, 68-year-old male, has mycosis fungoides since 2008, which has turned malignant 2 years ago. He has received a combination of radiotherapy and chemotherapy, to which he has had only partial response. His numerous skin lesions have been getting worse recently and are starting to become infected. He has lost a ton of weight, and he is so weak that he can now hardly walk. His prognosis is grave. I would say that, at this rate, he has less than 6 months to live (I'm a physician). He is in complete denial of his worsening condition, esecially his bad prognosis. He acknowledges his worsening weakness and skin lesions, but he is still making long-term travel and even investment plans.


Type 1 since 14-months-old. I'm 31 now. I have only had minor preventative surgery on my retinas to deal with some leakage. I was also recently told that I am just beginning to form the first stages of cataracts. By the time I need treatment for it though, I'll probably be close to 40. It's a highly treatable condition. My point is, don't live in fear. I did for a while when I was in my twenties. Go to the doctor regularly, take care of yourself, and enjoy your life. Living with diabetes is nowhere near what it used to be.


My sister has had one kidney since she was 5. Chemo (unrelated) laid waste to her other kidney, which is now failing. Her nephrologist says that she'll need a transplant, and she's got people lining up to give her organs. After all of the surgeries that she's had, this is just another one in the series. It's met with a shrug. If she chooses my kidney though, I will be terrified. Anyhow, she's nearly 40. There's no suggestion of a shortened life. Even with one kidney, she's managed to do some pretty amazing stuff. Don't worry until you're told to worry.


My mom has one kidney. She suspects that she had some sort of a kidney disease that wasn't diagnosed as a child, so the diseased kidney just withered and died off. Well, she's turning 74 this year and still going strong. 


Type 1 runs in my family, and it only seems to deduct life expectancy from those who abuse their insulin situations (I can eat terribly, or have another drink and just use more insulin). For those who actually lead a healthy life, they have reached, or exceeded, life expectancy. Except for the ones with dementia, dementia and diabetes do not mix well.


My 83-year-old grandmother has Type 1 diabetes. The bottom line is, if you take good care of yourself and maintain not only good physical health but also good mental health, it goes a long way. Otherwise, death is more probable.


I have rheumatoid arthritis and something called alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency. I manage my RA with regular medications (methotrexate and plaquenil) and lots of exercise. I'm also experimenting with various types of elimination diets to investigate inflammation triggers.

The Alpha-1 is more troublesome because symptoms just kind of pop-up during life. It can cause severe lung and liver problems- emphysema and liver cirrhosis. Typically lung symptoms start showing between 20-50. So far, I haven't experienced any severe symptoms (I'm 32).

Normally, each condition is manageable. Unfortunately, RA also causes eventual lung problems, and the RA medications cause liver damage. Life expectancy is tough to predict, but each lowers it between 5-10 years. In any case, the double whammy makes me suspect that my liver is just going to give up at some points in my 60s. I'm not much of a drinker, but as of this coming New Years, I'm simply giving up alcohol completely.


I'm a 23-year-old female. I've had Type 1 diabetes since I was 5. I use insulin pump therapy, as well as, low carb eating to keep my blood sugars stable. Type 1 takes about 20 years off the average life expectancy, so I'm aiming for about 55-60 years. It terrifies me sometimes.


My girlfriend has CF and she's about to turn 21 (as I am). We've known each other since 7th grade, and it terrifies me sometimes when I get reminded that she has a terminal disease. The worst part is, she doesn't take anything for it and has no health insurance. I don't like thinking about it (but yeah). Whenever we stay over at each other's places, I always rub her ab region in the morning. She says that it helps, but I think she's just saying that.


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