Life Lessons Learnt around a Pizza

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(Pesto Pizza)

I can’t believe my friend died yesterday from cancer at 10:55 am. We had such a special bond between us. I met him in the hospital and we forged an unbreakable bond. It just goes to show, life is so fragile and we shouldn’t take things for granted.

Eddy and I met at the hospital. Our friendship was a unique story. I would watch in the afternoons, as other neighbors in the ward would walk up and down the hall. I watched in envy, as at that time, I was too weak to do anything. I was able to lean in a chair with wheels, but not healthy enough to use a wheelchair myself. Even to be rolled into the corridor or to sit still in the chair was so painful.

I had been admitted for spinal injury. No one ever knew if I ever had a chance to get out. The pain was immense red hot stabbing pain, burning the whole of my back, down through my legs, and back again. I couldn’t move no matter hard I tried to. Nerve pain is the worst pain I’ve ever felt in my life. To top it off, this type of pain confuses signals to the brain. My mind was willing, but the body would fail.

Sitting in the corridor I saw other patients walk up and down the hall. Particularly one patient caught my eye. He walked originally three times a day, reducing it to two times a day, to eventually once a day, to nothing. He was a fighter and my accountability buddy. I looked at him in envy and said, “ I’ll be so happy if one day I can walk like you.” He replied, “ You got to try everyday to move, and eventually you will move. Even if it’s not a lot, you must try.”

The times in the hospital were the hardest times for both of us. Our friendship was cruel in the way that I hated to see myself improve, as he got weaker. As my pain slowly went away, his grew stronger. As I learnt to move and eventually walk, he slowed down and became stagnant. There were so many times we were depressed, but motivated each other and uplifted each other. From exercising to eating, we made sure the other person was doing it. We wanted to see good done for the other person.

Our friendship was an unlikely friendship too, it felt like Tuesdays with Morrie. Though our journeys were different, we connected through our struggles. He was in his late 50s, as I had just turned 24 when I met him, and now 25. Our friendship lasted over a year, he came one month after I had arrived. More over when we first met, we spoke to each other in Cantonese, and then laughed when we found out that it was neither of our native tongues. After digging deeper, I found out he was Taiwanese, and so we conversed in Mandarin, that was so much easier than Cantonese for both of us.

Life is such that we never know what’s around the corner. I didn’t want the inevitable to happen for he was sick. I wanted to believe, that somehow he could pull through no matter what.

When I was discharged from the hospital, we still were very much in contact. We called each other, and I would visit him almost every time after I went to physiotherapy. This one time I visited him in the chemotherapy room, I didn’t know it was going to be my last time seeing him in person. His wife was very excited and told me I had to hear some good news from Eddy, himself. This was the first time and only time we shared a meal together. He told me he had found a transplant and was going to leave for Taiwan. I immediately congratulated and cheered him with our pesto-flavoured pizza.

Life is full of ups and downs. It is our choice to do how we see fit.

If I learnt anything from Eddy, it was this piece of advice from an honest man, “ Such is life. This is life. We must try bit by bit to do what we can, with the situation we’re in… if you try everyday, then you’ll for sure accomplish it.” With these encouraging words I try everyday.

What are you doing everyday to better yourself?

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12 thoughts on “Life Lessons Learnt around a Pizza

  1. so sorry to hear about this lucas 😦 this is terrible… 😦 his suffering has ended.. my thoughts with his family 😦 this particular post really inspires me to try my best to treat the patients i come across well. what we see during the ward round is just the tip of the iceberg. there is so so much to every individual in the ward…. i see how doctors become desensitised and gradually lose respect and sympathy for patients. they are so much more than a file of medical notes and a set of blood results. xxx

      • Cool! I spend a lot of time in hospitals and I know all about how close you can get to your caretakers and doctors. My surgeon has saved my life 3 times. I’ve died on the operating table and I’ve seen the tears in his eyes when he tells me what his team went through with me. Funny, I was always under the impression that doctors had no feelings. NOT TRUE at all. My GI doc is the same way. So loving and truly concerned. I wouldn’t be alive if not for the two of them.

        I hope more up and coming doctors develop compassion like my doctors and Jo seem to have 🙂

      • Oh my goodness, I can’t believe you came back to life 3 times! Here I am still putting myself together as this is my 2nd chance, but there you are on your 4th chance at life 🙂 Your super human!

      • I sure don’t feel superhuman. You just don’t know what God has planned for you (or me). It’s just not my time to die. It’s not yours either 🙂 You’re such a light to people now. You have a job to do my friend 😉 AND you’re doing it!

  2. Lucas, You just never cease to amaze me! From your comments on my page and then even more so here. I firmly believe that people go through struggles in order to learn or maybe become stronger in character. Upon reading this, I’m wondering if God didn’t let your friend live through cancer in order to make you strong enough to stand up and fight? He definitely had a role in your life and I’m SO thankful you had him to teach you and that you were there to build him up when he was down also. You were very significant to him.

    I’m wondering now, what kind of transplant? I don’t understand what happened to him if they were excited and that he was accepted for a transplant? That just goes to show, you NEVER know. I’m SO thankful for you that you got to share that pizza. Makes me smile thinking about it.

    I’m blessed that you found my blog and that I, now have the chance to know such an awesome person. Again, you inspire me.

    • The strongest trees grow from the strongest winds.

      If I had to become a stronger character by my friend’s death, I wish I was weak. There is a lesson to learn in everything that happens when we stop to reflect. I am so happy that even through his passing he still has something to share. Some lessons learnt for both of us was through a smile or a glance of acknowledgement, because we both were in too much pain.

      He had a bone marrow transplant. It was very hard for him to get a donor since he had already stage IV terminal cancer. This cancer started out in his bone marrow and spread to the rest of his body. Bone marrow cancer sucks, it is the fasting spreading cancer in the body. My friend’s cancer was the worst in the ward. The best they could do was try to give him clean bone marrow. It was already late for him, but he was a fighter none the less.

      That pizza was really significant for both of us 🙂 I’m going to remember him every time I have a pesto pizza from now on.

      The blessing is really on my behalf. I am really happy I got to meet such a nice warm hearted person. It is my first time blogging, and you are making blogging very enjoyable for me.

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