Still the same

This guy, young and only in his early thirties, has primary cancer of the brain with two previous surgeries to remove parts of his temporal lobe. He is now not the fastest-witted man — but still exuding a certain loveability. Now with his disease progressing, he is undergoing radiotherapy to the brain.

Sitting in the clinic room a few weeks into treatment, I asked him how he was. He let off a sigh. He took off his cap to reveal his scalp — a little red from the radiation treatment, with irregular patches of baldness. Whatever hair he had left, it was very short.

“What can I say. When I was told I got brain cancer five years ago,” he said, “I told myself I’m gonna change. Stop bumming around and get my life together. All my life, it’s all been about footie, but I told myself to stop. I wanted to do something meaningful y’know. Maybe some traveling.

“But here I am and I’m still the same. It’s the new AFL season again. Richmond lost last week and my whole week’s been depressed. Who knows if we won, maybe I wouldn’t be so affected.

“It’s been how long…,” he paused a little while. “Still the same. Got nothing done.” Possibly with a hint of knowing that he may not have many more years to go, yet still the same. No changes.

11 responses to this post

  1. OD
    // reply // #

    we certainly need some kind of hope in life- a hope of continuity perhaps?
    I guess the fact that we do not know the date of the last day of our life is somehow a ‘hope in disguise’.

    oh no.. are you always gonna post up depressing stories from now on….

  2. Grace
    // reply // #

    Define “something meaningful”, I don’t think it’s traveling :P
    我們一生的年日是七十歲 ,若是強壯可到八十歲;但其中所矜誇的不過是勞苦愁煩 ,轉眼成空 ,我們便如飛而去 。詩篇90:10

    • // reply // #

      Ya you should tell the guy (and many other people) that something meaningful doesn’t necessarily mean traveling!

      I can’t remember now… were you traveling for a whole 12 months? or even more?

  3. Anonymous
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    hey, I think I saw you at the college of radiologist stand today. I thought hmm that person looks familiar, and worked out that I’ve seen your photo on your website here before haha. was going to stop and say hi, but you were busy talking to someone :)

    • // reply // #

      ^ oops forgot to sign in, that was me

      • // reply // #

        oh wow you definitely should have said hi! how long are you in Melb for? it’d be awesome if we met up; send me an e-mail or something

        guess you’re not that interested in rad onc then haha

  4. // reply // #

    great, I’ll contact you on email! and well that’s sort of true, partly because I don’t even know what rad onc people do haha

  5. Anonymous
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    embrace the presence is the most meaningful thing

    tat guy should treasure his family and friends and his own self regardless of the ailing state. at least he still know tat he has passion for the footy, enjoying it with his people is meaningful

    • // reply // #

      hey, thanks for the comment! i agree spending time with loved ones, or having a passion for footy, has inherent meaning. but maybe it wasn’t enough to satisfy him in his context. or when the question of what ultimately has meaning is asked. my thoughts. what are yours?

      • Anonymous
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        ultimate goal is to live to the fullest for the present moment. people always think of what has been done and regret of not doing enough especially when facing imminent death. when we are young and healthy, do we have as much regrets as the moment the guy is facing?

        • // // #

          i would kindly argue that the ultimate goal, as you mentioned, isn’t to live to the fullest for the present moment — but rather for what has eternal value.

          i would love to hear more about your other worldviews. meaning is only one of the questions we will all need to struggle with, quietly or not — there are also the questions of origin, destiny and morality (what is right and wrong), and our viewpoints for these four big questions ought to present a coherent framework. we can continue our conversation here, or alternatively i would love for you to e-mail me so that we can continue this discussion. my e-mail is in the about section!

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