The year I entered Medical School…
I had an aunty who was battling terminal cancer. Lost her at the beginning of that year – 2002. Hardly a month after she turned 49!
It was hard to see a dynamic woman bedridden, suffering in pain…to say the least. Berat mata memandang, berat lagi bahu memikul. Literally means ‘as hard as it is on the eyes that see it, the harder it is on the shoulders that carry it’.
The Big-C! How I hate it…I am sure everyone does.
So, I entered Medical school with the thought of ‘helping people’. Losing a mother figure that I’ve had all my life made me take cancer seriously. That was one reason I chose palliative care for my electives in Uni. I learnt an essential life lesson : It is from those who are dying that you learn how to live!
All along the journey (student & work-life), determined to do my best for each patient, as if they were a family member (for most of them, anyway).
Perhaps a tad selfish too.
You pray someone else will take bloody good care of your family, near & far – Their Doctor!
You believe what goes round comes round.
We doctors often miss being there for even our family members who are near, due to work commitments. I’ve known doctors who continued working while their own appendix was rupturing…
Fast forward many many years later…
It struck again, and again.
An uncle of mine – I couldn’t even attend the funeral as I was on-call & couldn’t change the weekend call at such short notice. Although I wasn’t close to him, he has always been kind to us.
Cousin’s Grandfather – the hospital detected Big-C incidentally, only towards the end of his life when he was admitted for pain.
Grandmother – while undergoing palliative radiotherapy.
The latter 2 people lived to a ripe old age.
My best friend’s daddy whom I met at my family wedding, and a day later – lost his battle only few months after being diagnosed!
About 1 month ago, lost another aunty (my parent’s cousin) to a recurrence. Always enjoyed a good chat whenever we met at family events. She personally shared her journey after losing my best friend’s dad who had a somewhat similar disease, a day after his funeral, 2 years ago. Heard that she was ill again. Was intending to visit her when I go home soon, but it was never to be.
Rest In Peace _/_
2 weeks ago…
Another aunty lost her battle to terminal cancer. Another mother figure. All her 3 kids are doctors! Sigh…and we couldn’t do anything, medically! She had to have the type that has very poor prognosis. Isn’t it painful to even read this?
She was only 56!
Thanks to my gem of a boss, I managed to visit her few weeks after her diagnosis – hardly 2 months before her time was up. I still can’t believe she is no more. I have good final memories of her…the last conversation was a short and sweet one during Mother’s Day. She was too ill & I never spoke to her again.
I was hoping against hope & keeping faith that I will get to spend some more time with her again during my upcoming planned holiday, that she will live on to see a few milestones in her family later this year. But…sigh! God had other plans.
Rest In Peace _/_
Again and again, it struck & won! Took away people close to me & makes me feel helpless.
A common denominator – some of the loveliest people on planet Earth. Nobody is perfect – they have their flaws. But, they aren’t the type to harm another.
And when it involves relatively young people who have yet to live for themselves – SIGHhhh! 60 or 65 is the official age to be considered old, isn’t it? Why this kind of suffering towards the end? I know…Buddha said Life is Suffering.
But, Karma??? my foot! I am losing Faith in Karma…
Especially when I see toxic people who make life hell for others, being blessed. Okay, so they might be suffering in other ways, that we bystanders can’t see…you say? That’s another story altogether.
But for the nicest people, why of all the things, why Cancer? Why that much of suffering?! I continue questioning…
15 years since my first experience in losing a yet-to-be-old dear aunty to the big-C, and comparing with my latest loss merely few days after celebrating my 10th working anniversary, my thoughts are different now. Losing another yet-to-be-old darling aunty of mine, now my only thoughts are : What is the point of being a doctor?
Both of them came into the families before I was born. They have always been there as far as any memory or photo (of mine ) goes. And just like all the other dearly departed – they join the ‘Memories’ part of life. No more reality.
I hate you, big-C. I hate you from the bottom of my heart!
P.S: One thing that I hate more – Fake news about cures that belittle medical approach! Just like those anti-vaccine movements, I’m seeing alot of anti-cancer treatment posts on social media anger. Alternative treatment as an adjunct is fine – Faith wins half the battle. Provided, it IS NOT harmful!!!
As the age old lesson goes : Treasure people. Tell & do things that you intend to without any delay. Show them the love NOW. Not when it is too late.
Live Life to the Fullest.