Published On: Fri, May 26th, 2017


Jacob Gelt DekkerA friend came to visit and told me the following story.

“ I came to see you in the hospital, but when I got to your room, you were asleep.

Your face looked like melted wax, yellowish, with a gray, skeletal, death mask shining through. Your skin was tight and shiny. For a moment, I thought, you were dead. I ran out of the room, and once in the hospital lobby, I broke down and sobbed, and sobbed beyond control.”

He cried when he told the story, and so did I.

I am still alive and doing rather well. It 's hard to grade one's condition, but I would say compared to 2014, physically, I am somewhere 40-60%, and mentally 100%, though more matured and fatigued.

My prognosis is unclear. I may live for days, months, or even years. It is the way it is, and never, the way it should be. But it really does not matter. I have outlived six malignant cancers thus far, and am grateful for all the time I can live with some quality.

The “preacher-teacher” in me cannot resist to give you some advice, maybe for yourself or your loved one, for now, or later.

  1. As a patient, you should minimalize the emotions that go hand in hand with the diagnosis of cancer. Bemoaning your upcoming demise and wallowing in self-pity are not very helpful emotions.

Emotions of the patient and their loved ones sabotage the treatment, slow down immune system reactions and make your remaining life miserable. CUT IT OUT!!! Celebrate the time you got.

  1. Rally your support systems; you will need them. You have no idea how much you helped me, even with, as little as, a ‘thumbs-up”. It was tremendous! Thank you very, very much. I will always love you for it.

Some patients and their families scolded and condemned me for even using the word “cancer.” They retreated into "privacy" and secrecy, and a charade of false pretenses.

By cutting out your support systems, you open up, for yourself as a patient, and your loved ones, a hellhole of falsehood and suffering. Any such pretense is unnecessarily adding to your pain. Just accept that you have cancer, and, as a cancer patient, after treatment, will never be what you were before.

  1. Be diligent and read as much as you can about your disease, or get someone else to do it for you. Doctors are buzzy bees and do not have the time to be up to date. The more questions you ask them, the more you challenge them, the better are your chances.

By Jacob Gelt Dekker
Columnist for Curaçao Chronicle

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