Tuesday, March 31, 2015

What Do You Say To A Dying Person? One With The Most Tragic Story I've Ever Heard..

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I got a message from someone a few days ago. Someone who'd read my blog and wanted to talk... something. He didn't really say what.

Over the next few days, we chatted about random things - what I was doing, how I was feeling; this and that. He always seemed reluctant, or distracted. As if he was on the verge of telling me what was up. But he never really got to it. So I kept checking up on him.

The next day, he let slip that he was getting married.

"Married! Really? Haha I understand now why you're busy!"

"I'm so excited! But stressed with all the planning.. I'll talk soon dude! When I have time!"

He never did get to talk. Well, HE hasn't yet...

But I did get a message from his husband the other day.

"Andrew's in the hospital... and he told me to message you. He was vomiting for a while. And then he fell unconscious... they're watching over him closely."

"Oh no... that's horrible. I know he's going through pain right now... but I'm sure he's glad you're there to help him..." I messaged cautiously. Dread was almost palpably building up in my stomach, as it always does when someone messages me something like this...

"Well, he mentioned something about his legs having some issues... If I may ask, what's brought this on? Is he OK now? Are you?" 

No reply. Until the next day. When I got this message.

"Andrew had thyroid cancer. His forster parents didn't think it was an issue, they didn't take him to hospital... Until it spread so far around his body... that they had to amputate his legs. They haven't seen him since.

"And now, it's in his brain."

"The doctors aren't telling me much... he's getting weaker and weaker..."

"How am I feeling about this? Well... I don't know, really... He's my everything..."

My dread was confirmed... I realised where this was heading. I knew what that meant. And when I read his last post on Google Plus, it was confirmed. Andrew was dying. 

And this development meant that he may not have much longer...  

 What do I say to that? How could I ease their pain? Their struggle?

They're star-crossed lovers... Through and through.

His dream was to get married to the love of his life...


He DID manage to make and conduct his marriage. In fact... it was the day before his husband messaged me about his hospitalisation...
He'd fulfilled his dream.
But now what?

We see, and revere stories, of star-crossed lovers; staying by eachother til the end... we hold them up in high stead, their stories inspire us, and make us hope for love and joy such as that... But what we don't see in stories like Romeo and Juliet and The Fault In Our Stars, what we can never understand nor feel is the lingering pain felt for lifetimes by the mothers, fathers, children, friends and lovers of those who've passed.

Andrew's husband, like many around the world, is right now being forced to watch on as his loved ones suffers, and possibly dies, right before his eyes... How could I tell him that it'd be alright? How could I ease his pain?   

Andrew himself, though he'd made it, and fulfilled his dream of getting married to the love of his life, was still, in his own words, "terrified" of what was to come... And he wanted his friends to know that. Contrary to what people thought, he didn't feel brave or strong, but rather terrified. Who wouldn't be? In truth, most, if not all cancer patients are...

I tried for ages to write and send his husband some words that could ease both their pains. Some magical combination of letters and phrases that could absolve them of their torment, and bring about some relief... but... in the midst of this... tragedy... I couldn't think of any. 

I ended up sending him this.

"It sucks that good people have to be subjected to so much pain and suffering... But I read Andrew's post today and I know that he's in a similar place I was and is handling it the same way I did. 

When I was diagnosed, I was given a tiny chance of survival. For a long time, I was down and out about it all... I was devastated tbh [to be honest]. But after a while I took a step back and looked at what had happened to me... As if it had happened to someone else. And when I did that, I realised I shouldn't worry about what I couldn't control - the pain, the treatments and everything horrible to come but rather what I could. And that was just focusing on just being as healthy as possible, inching my chances up that much higher... And just being happy wherever and whenever I could.

I did the same thing - I took a step back and realised, when I relapsed, and was initially given a death sentence like Andrew,  that in the end... I could either think of it in this way... that I have six months left to live...  Or that I had six months left... TO LIVE. To feel. To love. To learn. To discover. To help.
Andrew's attitude, his resolve to enjoy his time on this world, despite the fact that he's still suffering and still in pain is one that's made him, and most importantly, those around him, happy. His marrying you is just the pinnacle of that happiness, the thing that's made him and his life that much more whole, that much more complete.
This may not be the end. And I hope it isn't. But I want you and Andrew to know that what he's done isn't just getting the most out of his life and love, but the most out of everyone who hears his story."

That's the best I could do. I tried reminding them of Andrew's own attitude,  in the hopes that they'd try to smile and laugh in what could be their last few days with eachother.  I reminded them of how his struggle wasn't in vain; how it was leading to something special... something larger... something that was going to inspire everyone who hears this story.

I know it's not enough to erase Andrew's pain, and terror of what's to come. Of his husband's inconsolable loss of his 18 year old partner... 

But if you're reading this... the best way you can honour Andrew's life is to learn from him. 

I know it seems clich├ęd, but just because it is, doesn't mean it's not true.

Try and live every day like it's your last. It's sad to say... but for many it is.

Don't assume that others are brave, or fine, or strong, or anything for that matter. That thought itself torments too many. In fact, that's the post through which Andrew found me in the first place.

Andrew also said on his Google Plus page that he wanted to start a blog - to share his story - to make people see what it's like for people like him... to let them see what he's going through. To hopefully learn from him...

I hope this post has allowed him to achieve something close to that...
Do share this so that he can achieve this goal too.

 What did I tell his husband? 

The sad truth... That nothing could ease the pain. It would be hard... especially the next few months.

But that despite that - Andrew would have wanted him to be happy. 
And that Andrew still lived on, through him, and through how he's changed the world of those around him... and hopefully those of you reading this too. 

Along with my remorse for their loss though... I feel... some anger. I've seen too many people, young and old, suffer now. I've seen too many people die... 

I've been thinking for a while now about a novel, new way of treating cancer. One based on the concepts of immunotherapy, but one applicable, a system transferable, and able to target many types of cancer. I'll explain more as I flesh out the details and conduct further research into it to see if it's plausible, but click here for a thread I had early on as I started thinking it up. But I hope I'm right and hope that this can become a game changer. If not... I hope that immunotherapies of all kinds can improve further and hit the markets quicker so less people have to go through experiences like this...

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