Gezellig: living not dying

This past week was an eventful one, it seemed to last forever and quite a lot happened. Thursday was by far the most poignant day.

My sister and friends were in Wootton Bassett to welcome home Mark who was killed at the start of the week in Afghanistan, he was escorted to his flight home by their husbands and they were there to complete the circle when he landed back in the UK.

One of my friend’s Jo’s grandfather died – she’d lived with her grandparents as a teenager and Ed will be sorely missed. At about the same time, another friend Jo was giving birth to Johnny who I got to meet today:

My Mum and Dad celebrated their 38th Wedding Anniversary with a trip to see my Dad’s oncologist. Three months ago when we visited Dad was offered chemotherapy which he turned down, this time he was offered again. I can’t tell you how much better Dad looks at the moment, he says he is not aware of his tumour at all (and I believe him), whereas last time I was certain he was sick. It’s a strange old thing cancer, Dad has had a really mixed experience, but I was so proud of him as he explained to his consultant that he was enjoying his summer, him and Mum have been decorating this week, and he wasn’t ready for chemo again just yet. When the consultant explained again that there was a chance that Dad could get ill and then not be well enough to have it, Dad looked him in the eye and said he understood that he was going to die, but right now he didn’t feel ill, so he didn’t want to try it. Dad’s reasoning was that it was poison and he’s happy to take his chances just now. Mum still hopes that Dad will keep proving us all wrong and some ‘miracle’ might happen. She’s not prepared to give up hope just yet.

Thursday evening on BBC3 there was a documentary called Alex: A Life Fast Forward. I’m not going to go into detail but would recommend it to anyone who wants to know more about the amazing spirit of someone who was dying from Bone Cancer. In fact no, he wasn’t dying from cancer, he was very much living with it. I didn’t watch it on Thursday, instead I cried my way through it this afternoon. I found it seriously inspiring, sad and heart wrenching but no way tragic or depressing.

Watching Alex, his family and his friends gave me such an enormous sense of déjà vu. Quite early on in the documentary, his mum talks about not giving up hope, knowing he is dying but just hoping that something will come along to change things – this is sooo much how my Mum is. I guess its not surprising really given what they’re facing.

As I sat thinking about Alex’s experience, and the parallels to my Dad, the thing that struck me was how much of a positive attitude they bring to their situations. The documentary includes a family friend, Alex’s best mate’s father, Dr David Ebbs. He summed it up perfectly really when he says:

His way of dealing with it is not to deny it, because I don’t think he does, I think he knows and he understands. But he doesn’t feel that he needs to live it, as an illness, he needs to live the wellness and I think that is something to do with the kind of attitude that you have, you know, the glass is half full as opposed to half empty and I think he sees his, not just as half full, but actually there’s something that makes it bubble up a little bit more, you know, he’s got a little bit of froth on the top as well.

That’s my Dad all over. He’s not denying his illness, he’s not ignoring the fact he is terminally ill, he’s just not too bothered about it, it’s not that he doesn’t think about it, Alex talks about the fact that he thinks about cancer every day, I do and I’m fairly certain my Dad does too. In spite of that, Dad chooses to focus on living. Whenever I type a post like this I get concerned I’m somehow tempting fate (not that I really believe in fate – don’t ask, that’s a conversation for another time) but the very last thing I want to do is post about how well Dad is because I’m very aware of how quickly things can change. That said, I couldn’t not post and encourage you to watch the documentary, and to remember next time life is getting you down, that there is always something positive to focus on, you just need to find it.

7 thoughts on “Gezellig: living not dying

  1. Glad to read your post about your dad doing well and focusing on being well. My dad died was had a different cancer and he did eventually die but I often feel grateful for the years we had despite the many times we thought he might not be with us for much longer. In a sense we are all dying, all certain of the ending, but it takes real courage to take on that knowledge and still make the most of life so hats off to your dad. Wishing him years of wellness and love.

  2. It’s really good to hear that your dad is doing well at the moment. I know very well about the ups and downs. My dad was first told he had about 6 months when I was 17.. and lets just say, without giving my age away too much (!) he lived many years past that, but we had to many ‘scares’ as well as times it was almost possible to believe he was just going to go on forever.. and I think there’s a lot to be said in living without illness – especially as chemo can be so draining and debilitating.
    I haven’t seen A Life Fast Forward but will try to catch it. I’ve only heard good things about it. I think we all have moments when we can use a bit of perspective.

  3. George, never give up blogging, I check in here from time to time just to get back in touch with reality and remember what’s important in life – those that we love and cherish.

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