Four British men and women share something in common with every single one of us across the globe - one day they will die. The difference is that they know with certainty that it will be sooner rather than later. Matthew Stride has a brain tumour; Sophie Sabbage has stage four terminal cancer; Vivek Gohil is now in a wheelchair due to Duchenne muscular dystrophy; Mandy Paine has chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and needs oxygen to breathe.
Alongside the fear and grief that accompanied their diagnosis, these illnesses have also brought reflection, wisdom, opportunities and unexpected happiness. They are helping others, or living their dreams, changing lives and making a difference in the world.
In their words, they explain what it means to have a life-limiting condition and approach the end of your time on Earth.
Imminent death focuses the mind on what is important in life, producing a mental clarity that many of us would envy. Their experiences are filled with insight and lessons learnt and, while moving, are ultimately life-affirming.
The two most important dates in our lives are the day we are born and the day we die. What happens in between those two dates makes a life. What is striking when people know they will soon die – those who raise money for charity, start helplines or write books to help others in a similar condition – is the overall message of love and hope.