Andrew is a 77 year old artist who currently lives in Halifax NS. Born in Albany, New York, he grew up in a family that didn’t talk openly about death. However Andrew has had no shortage of death in his life, having lost both his brother and mother to suicide. He also lost his first wife to breast cancer when she was only 45. So when he received his own prostate cancer diagnosis at 59, he’d already begun to seriously contemplate his own mortality.
Andrew describes himself as an atheist who doesn’t believe in myths of heaven, hell, or an afterlife. He views death as a complete and total cessation of consciousness, a thought that he finds liberating rather than frightening. If and when life becomes unbearable, death can be a viable escape hatch.
When Andrew was first diagnosed, he was given 5 to 10 years. He’s now been living with terminal cancer for 18 years, and the place he has come to is this: “It is what it is, it will be what it will be. I will do what I have to do to keep myself healthy … but … when I go, I go … I’m going to live my life and enjoy my life.” He feels grateful to live in Canada, grateful to live in a city with a vibrant cultural life, grateful to live near the ocean. “… [I’m] surrounded by this wealth of things that feed me. I probably live better than any medieval king … we are so privileged to live in this time and place. My one prayer is that we overcome all the stupid shit that’s going down in the world …” Andrew plans on enjoying life as much as possible while he’s here: “… if you’re not excited about living, well you might as well be dead! … Grab life by the balls, I say!”