WARNING - Some of you may find this sharing to be a taboo subject or even offensive. If so, please use your discretion. For others, I hope this sharing will help to strengthen and encourage you in improving the quality of your life.
A Straits Times special report on Saturday, 4th April 2009 carried a few pages and many stories of end stage terminally ill patients, many of them cancer patients, sharing their bravery and attempt to live their last days in the best quality of life. On Sunday, CNA showed a documentary from some of these patients sharing their story of how they live their life despite their terminal state. I believe we can all take heart and encouragement from these brave and wonderful people. Some have passed on and their loved ones have come forward to share their story.
Besides the stories, let me share some of the survey results from the Lien Foundation with you on the dying wishes of people:-
- Top Priority
What does dying well mean to you
- Not spending enough time with loved ones
What would you do if you have only 6 months to live
- Physical - painless death
- No regrets, dying happily and peacefully without worry
- Fulfilment - knowing all affairs are settled, having led a meaningful life, to have accomplish my dreams, wishes, desire and goals
- Spend time with loved ones
- Live life to the fullest
- Stop working - Indulge in physical pleasures, food, drinks, clubbing or sex
- Live life as usual
- Be spiritual, pray, become a monk, read the Bible
- Stay at home
- Spend all money/give back to society/donate to charity/do volunteer work
Why am I sharing this with all of you?
My focus is not on death but instead on LIFE. It is to encourage each and everyone of us and our care giver that we should be like those wonderful people - live life to the fullest. Before cancer, I believe all of us live life without a care. We work hard for the many things in life like status to material possessions and eking out a living for the family. Like the many people in Singapore and the World we often end up living a life of regrets and missed opportunity. Regrets and missed opportunity to spend time with our family and loved ones, regrets and missed opportunity to be happy and care free, regrets and missed opportunity to do the things that we always want to do but always putting it aside because we claim to have no time to do it and many many more regrets and missed opportunity. It usually takes a serious illness to shake us up from our slumber.
In my case, and I believe in all our case as well, cancer has brought me back to what life is all about. My priorities have changed. No longer am I interested in chasing for the material things in life or working hard to earn more money and to climb the corporate ladder. After contracting cancer, my priorities are now central to my family, my own happiness and joy and how I can do more good. I am sure all of you have also re-considered your priorities following your own bout with cancer. I know that many of you have accepted and learn to live with cancer and live well. I also know that there are some who are still struggling to come to term with it. Worrying, crying and emotional pain and stress is not going to change our status with cancer.
Accepting cancer and learning to live and cope with it would be a better choice. Take the story of Patricia in the ST article. Her husband said that of the 39 years of their marriage, the last 19 months prior to her passing was their most wonderful and memorable time together as soul mates. I can only conclude that it is not how long you live but how well you live. A good quality of life even though it may be short is better than a long life without meaning. We don't have to wait till it is our turn before we learn to live like those brave and wonderful people in the ST article. They have set a good example for us by living their life well. We should too.
Remember Life is for Living. Live it to the Fullest
As a further encouragement, I am also sharing an extract for Celebrating Life:-
- Focus on enjoying people, not on indulging in or accumulating material things.
- Live in the here and now, not in the yesterdays and tomorrows. It is only today that you can handle. Yesterday is gone, tomorrow may not even happen.
- Accept physical weakness, sickness and other physical pains. It is a part of the ageing process. Enjoy whatever your health can allow.
- Enjoy your life with your spouse, children, grandchildren and friends. People, who truly love you, love you for yourself, not for what you have. Anyone who loves you for what you have will just give you misery. And you’d probably know that by now.
- Forgive and accept forgiveness. Forgive yourself and others. Enjoy peace of mind and peace of soul.
- Not trying to be morbid, but befriend death. It’s a natural part of the life cycle. Don’t be afraid of it. Death is the beginning of a new and better life. So, prepare yourself not for death but for a new life towards the realms of eternity.
- Be at peace with your yourself.
And above all, put your faith and trust in God. For by His Grace He will make all things beautiful in His Time.
About the Author
Calling himself a Nose Cancer Ambassador, Thiam Chye aims to de-mystify nose cancer by encouraging all survivors to share their personal experiences in their fight against cancer to enable new patients to undergo their treatment with courage and minimal pain and to lead a better quality of life on recovery. Should you wish to join the support group in its activities or need guidance on this article, please email him firstname.lastname@example.org
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