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A Dying 31-Year-Old's Advice: Beware 'Autopilot'

Elliot Dallen writes about new perspective after cancer, importance of not taking life for granted
By Newser Editors,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 8, 2020 11:22 AM CDT

(Newser) – Elliot Dallen does not have long to live. The London resident is 31 and has terminal cancer—adrenocortical carcinoma, to be precise—and in an essay at the Guardian, he writes that his time left can now be measured in weeks. But he's not looking for pity. Yes, "I will miss marriage or children, blossoming careers and lives moving on," he acknowledges. "But I'm not alone in my life being cut short, and I think my time has been pretty good." (He amends that to "awesome.") The diagnosis has given him time to reflect, and he passes along some advice for the rest of us. One snippet: "a life, if lived well, is long enough." That will mean different things to people, he writes, but the upshot is that nobody should be taking things for granted.

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"So when you find yourself slipping into autopilot, catch yourself, and take simple pleasure in movement, if you can," he writes. And for those lucky enough to be aging? "I have come to see growing old as a privilege," Dallen writes. "Nobody should lament getting one year older, another grey hair or a wrinkle." Revel in it, and "if you feel like you haven't made the most of your last year, try to use your next one better." Dallen hits other topics, including "the importance of gratitude," "be vulnerable and connect to others," "do something for others," and "protect the planet," and expounds in more detail on all of them. Read the column in full here. (Elsewhere, a cancer patient got the death she wanted, thanks to a new law.)

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