Feb 22, 2012 - 9:28 pm
Hi to all. Just wanted to pass on my recent experiences in the hope that some good will reach somebody that really needs a companion right now.
I was diagnosed with prostate cancer last summer. At 56yrs I am married, have 3 great kids and a great wife too. My sister died from lung cancer last year age 59 and I spent the last few months with her. During this time I learned about her life and her children ( I had lost touch for more than 5 years previous to this). She had a horrible life. Divorced, disfunctional selfish children, mother with early dementia dependant on her for care. She explained how they had all lived in a 2 bed house and found sleeping difficult due to noisy oxygen machines that mother needed. And then in January 2011 she developed a cough that simply would not go away. In march 2011 after the usual checks and delays she was finally diagnosed with terminal lung cancer with life expectancy of about 6mnths-1yr. Mother was put into a care home but was not informed of her daughters' health. To make matters even worse, my sisters' daughter and son (age 34 and 30 respec.) decided to abandon her following a disagreement. There's more, she was no longer allowed to see her grandchildren - this was very, very painful for her. Her remaining son (24 yr) continued to visit her but was always looking for money or complaining that his needs were not being met. And so, as you can imagine, my sister had a painfully sad end to her life.
During her last few weeks I asked her if she beleived in God. She replied "yes" but it was obvious to me that she had no real beleifs or hope in anything. I bought her a bible and encouraged her to read a gospel. One day after I returned from a walk I found her reading it but still, I felt, she had no desire to connect to anything spiritual. I spent a lot of our time during the summer months sitting in the sunlight with my sister talking about her children, preparing special organic vegan food for her and trying to engage with something bigger than both of us. The trouble is that when a person who has not beleived in God while enjoying health suddenly loses that health, they find it hard to beleive that their newly found interest is sincere or that praying will "do anything"
While walking alone on a sunny day alongside a canal (I walk everday for about an hour)I started to thank God for my own health. The more I thought about the things I had and the things I could do in comparison to my poor sister the more humble I became. I looked to a perfectly clear blue sky while breathing unhindered and realised how fortunate I was to be able to do this and what an incredibly beautiful gift of life I had. I looked at my hands and tried to imagine the complexity that was taking place on a cellular level in complete darkness. I did this many times last summer. It was my little break during the day and I realize now that it was also my daily spiritual food. My sister died in july. It was a privilidge for me to be with her and to listen to her words. Just before she died she said "You people have it all wrong. You worry about the wrong things" She did not receive a visit from her daughter or son and died in my arms in a hospice bed. God bless you my dear sister Sophia.
I returned home a broken man and spent many hours being comforted by my wife. I felt unsure about my own health at this time and she explained that this was natural and part of the recovery process. After a couple of weeks I started to make regular journeys to visit mother who was beginning to miss my sister but had no idea she had died. And then, a little while later my sisters eldest son decided to tell her. Because of her dementia the news of Sophias' death remained new news and so she suffered each day as though she had just been told. Her condition deteriorated and she died in January. God bless you too mum.
Around july last year on my sisters' advice I visited the doctor and began a series of health ckecks. I was found to have early stage prostate cancer which was soon upstaged to locally advanced prostate cancer. I dont know if it will be upstaged again anytime soon but the next stage is advanced and treatment is palliative. As many on here will know, diagnosis is a shocking thing and needs time to accept before the pain gives way to rational thought about treatment options. I was tearfull and fearfull when left alone. But I carried on walking as always - about an hour a day. I enjoyed the time alone away from people. It allowed me to be honest with myself and my feelings and to talk to God (if He was there and listening in). As the days passed and my one way conversation with God grew more sincere and less selfish I began to see how blessed I still was. God had given me 56 long years (so far!) 3 lovely children, a good wife, a home, but much much more God had given me life on this earth and even though I was small in the grand scheme of things I was still part of His plan. I began to feel more and more that I was not alone on these walks often returning feeling comforted, happy and full of thanks for everything I still have but also with a hope that there is everlasting life. No person has ever comforted me in such a satisfying way and all I had to do was humble myself and let Jesus do the rest.