Cai Emmons reflects on humor and her fatal diagnosis in Today

I imagine most people, like me, receive a fatal diagnosis with surprise. We all know intellectually that we will die, but no one really feels death as a certainty. We tend to live as if we’re immortal, feeling our expiration date as an unreality we can push indefinitely into the future. Maybe our lives will be the exception to human life — maybe we’ll be the first immortal. I know that is how I lived, with an unconscious belief in immortality, until my ALS diagnosis in February 2021. There is currently no cure for ALS and the mean survival time is two to five years. And yet, maybe I still harbor the notion that I’ll outwit the disease and live into my nineties as my mother and grandmother did.