Prepping with a Terminal Illness, by D.P.

About a month ago I was diagnosed with a very aggressive type of brain cancer– glioblastoma. There’s no cure, and the chances of long-term survival are pretty slim. It’s referred to as “terminal” cancer. However, there are some long-term survivors, and I’m hoping to add to that number. If not, without a shred of doubt I have been one of the luckiest and blessed people I know. I’ve been blessed with a beautiful and caring wife, two young boys I love beyond measure, wonderful family and friends, and not least importantly from long ago an appreciation for the wonder of this beautiful world that God has provided for us.

Now, what does this have to do with prepping? For me, a lot. It’s about preparing those you love for when or if you are no longer around to protect and feed them, and that could be a scenario in any TEOTWAWKI storyline.

This topic isn’t only for those with a terminal disease, but it’s really for anyone dependent on medical technology or medicine for their survival. You can’t really sugar coat this, but if or when there is a SHTF event and these things are no longer available to us, the majority of us will face our maker in short order. When the juice stops flowing, the machines that can help fight our ailments, along with the ability to create the medications that keep us, will be gone.

I’ve been of the prepper/survivalist mindset now for the past 10 years. That’s not a terribly long time, but this mindset has served me and my family well during this time, getting us through more than our share of events– the earthquake/tsunami/meltdown in Japan (while we lived in Kamakura at the time and worked in Tokyo); Superstorm Sandy in New Jersey; a personal financial crisis; and Hurricane Matthew, which affected us where we currently live along the southeast coastal shore. Among many other things, the following made these events do-able with various levels of comfort:

  • months of food stocked,
  • alternative sources of electricity,
  • Ham radio license,
  • arms and ammunition (though not while in Japan, unfortunately),
  • multiple ways to cook,
  • bug out plans well in place,
  • a wife that has usually been “on board”, and
  • the list goes on.

I know the above is very general, but this article isn’t about these events. It’s about how this mindset continues in the face of terminal illness. The following will cover just a few topics on this, as it’s not possible to cover them all.

Long-term Food Storage

One of the first thoughts that leaped into my mind after my initial surgery and diagnosis was I needed to get more long-term food storage. Food security is as important as life insurance, and my wife and two boys are going to have it. I know there isn’t a huge chance that I’d be eating that food 20 years down the road, or even three years, but thinking like that is selfish and in my opinion wrong. They’ll need food in a crisis just as much with me as without me. In addition to long-term food storage (I personally focus on freeze dried just out of convenience), my wife is now well-versed in pantry rotation and stocking up on what we eat. I’m more than confident they will be fine under her care.

Personal Defense and Firearms

Up until recently this is the only thing that my wife and I didn’t fully resonate with. My wife has been fine with the long arms I have and has even gone out shooting with me and practiced home invasion scenarios with them. But she was convinced pistols were too dangerous. (She’s Japanese after all.) After my hospital discharge from surgery, I sat my wife down and said I’ve only ever had one secret I’ve kept from her my entire life (and that’s true); long before this diagnosis I’ve always felt we can’t live in peace with ourselves and others, as well as God, while harboring secrets and guilt. The secret was I’ve had a pistol(s) for quite some time. She gave a huge sigh of relief and said she thought I was going to say I cheated on her or fathered another child or something. Ha! I knew that if I went all dramatic on her at first, the result would be fine. So about two weeks ago, my best friend, who has worked with firearms most of his life, came down from the northeast. He worked with my wife for several hours with one of my pistols. I couldn’t join them, due to the gunshots being too much for my head, even with ear protection. However, she got two thumbs up from her “trainer”, and I was very pleasantly surprised to see her targets. Yes, “several hours” doesn’t really mean diddly, but it’s a start. She knows basic safety and just as importantly now understands a handgun is just a tool and nothing to demonize.

Bugout / Emergency Bags

For years now there has always been one backpack per person in the family, which now includes our young kids. I know this will continue well past my life. The kids especially get a kick out of this. They love having their own emergency bags. Needless to say, they are quite a bit lighter and less intense than the adults’. These emergency bags aren’t as full as most perhaps, but in general the adult bags include the following:


Over the years, we’ve stocked a surplus of medications and related items in our home and rotated as needed. This includes printed manuals and books on almost everything we keep. My intention is the wife has read and understood these before I move on. There is an excellent article in SurvivalBlog about fish antibiotics and infectious diseases that I’ve printed several times. This article is as valuable as gold as far as I’m concerned. In addition, each of our cars include a somewhat less complete med kit.


My wife and I joke about the fact that her cooking is great, but she alway forgets one basic ingredient: flavor. 🙂 Having said that, we have four different ways to cook food, and she knows how to use all five, if we count a simple campfire. The four include the indoor stove/oven, a propane grill, a rocket stove (made from bricks), and a Coleman dual fuel camping stove. Something my wife has been doing for years and I highly recommend it is each time she does the laundry she saves the lint. I can’t say enough how excellent it is as a fire starter. Just a handful in the rocket stove gets a fire going each time. This redundancy leads us to the below often heard prepper expressions.

One phrase we hear alot in prepper circles is “one is none, and two is one”. This couldn’t apply any better to my case. With aggressive cancers, having just one treatment– the standard of care– is pretty much like having nothing. The possible path to some survivability lies with having multiple layers of treatment. In my case, not two, as I’m already up to four different treatment modalities and on the lookout for more. If any readers out there have illnesses that require medication, I highly suggest looking for alternative medications/treatments now rather than later.

Another expression we sometimes hear is “Prepare for the worst, but hope for the best.” If that doesn’t fit my current state of mind perfectly at this time, I’m not sure what does. We are all preparing for a TEOTWAWKI scenario to some degree, but of course we also have to live in and enjoy this world. We can’t just live in our bunker hidden under our backyards or we’d never see the blue sky above and the folk we love. In the end, we all face the same conclusion to our story, but it’s how we choose to live that should make it all worth it.

Fight the good fight!