Strategies for people with a life threatening illness | David Savage


Strategies for people with a life threatening illness

Welcome. These strategies are for people who’ve been diagnosed with a terminal or life threatening illness. If that’s you, I’m sharing these strategies because I know something about what you’re going through, they helped me and so maybe they can help you too.

I’m a Leadership Specialist based in New Zealand and when I was diagnosed with ALS, a Motor Neurone Disease, in September 2014, I adapted many of the strategies I train on my courses to help me face the prospect a very short future.

In my case the ALS diagnosis turned out to be wrong. What I actually have is Multifocal Motor Neuropathy, which is treatable. However, it took thirteen weeks before the diagnosis of ALS was officially changed, thirteen very tough weeks for myself and my family and friends. I was told with certainty that I had ALS and advised to be wheelchair-ready within six months, (life expectancy eighteen months to three years). With my wife four-months pregnant and two young children, you can imagine the emotional journey. (Read more about my experience here.)

My mission since is to take this experience and use it in meaningful ways, and so firstly I’m sharing these strategies online with people with a terminal or life threatening illness, and my hope is that some of these strategies will help.

Strategies for the mind

What’s happening in your mental and emotional environment will influence your experience. These are some of the strategies I employed. For me they kept me connected to what was most important, gave me clarity of mind and played the bigger role in empowering me to navigate the challenge of being diagnosed with ALS. As you’ll read, much of this is about reframing the situation, which is not an exercise in denial, but a way of creating an internal environment to draw strength from.

Strategies for taking action

These strategies revolve around actions you can take. Taking control of your situation may seem impossible, but on day-to-day basis action everything you can action that’s useful – a mountain is climbed step by step.

Your experience

Very importantly, I acknowledge that everyone’s experience and responses are different when given such a heavy diagnosis. In my case, it’s like I had the psychological experience of being diagnosed with a terminal illness, without – as it turns out – actually having one.

I make no argument that people facing such a challenge should think and feel as I did or choose to respond in the same way. How it is for you, is how it is for you and so please take these strategies and tools as pathways to explore that may help, as opposed to a template for dealing with your condition that’s guaranteed to provide results. I do believe though that the human mind has a great capacity to influence the outcomes of our toughest challenges, and what ever your diagnosis, I wish you well.