Having a cancer diagnosis and living with it for a long time puts a new twist on fear. I have new fears I didn’t have before, and I no longer fear things that used to incite me to trembling.

I have no fear of flying at all. A little turbulence is fine. Now I know we’ll all die sometime, and going down in a plane crash doesn’t seem so bad when you consider the alternatives. Death is just gate from this life to the next; a shorter, less painful transition would be better. With a plane crash, there is a much less lengthy period of time in which you contemplate your demise. A few seconds of terror and then it’s over before you can even feel any pain. I don’t fear massive heart attacks for the same reason.

Stage fright. I no longer have stage fright. I used to be nervous about playing piano publicly, I was also a little nervous about public speaking. No more. When you first get a cancer diagnosis and you really have something to fear, all other fears pale in comparison. What’s the worst that can happen playing piano publicly? Forget a note? Have to start a song over? Someone might hiss or boo?

I don’t worry about meeting a bear when I backpack, though I do worry a bit about getting lost. My sense of direction is really poor and I don’t want to have to hike hungry while I try to find my way back to a trailhead.

I don’t worry so much about people I love dying, they’ll just go on ahead of me, I’ll catch up with them later. I view life from an eternal perspective now…though I can’t imagine not being able to share my life with my husband and kids.

But I have new fears I didn’t have before. Fear of living a purposeless and meaningless life. Fear of not making a difference in the time I am allowed on this earth. Fear of wasting time. Fear of not appreciating the gifts I’ve been given, of not appreciating the beauty that surrounds me, of not appreciating enough the people who have come into my life from so many different places. I don’t really care how long I’m on this earth anymore, though I’d like to be able to finish raising my kids to adulthood (I’m almost there!). I just care that I use my time and my life here well, that I make a difference.