the will to live

a couple of nights ago, a lady gave up and died.

she neither slit her wrists nor ingested a lethal dose of medication. in fact, she was enthusiastic about life, despite sustaining burns on her face and hands, injuries which deferred her chemotherapy and delayed her treatment. she recovered from the burns, underwent surgery to restored her skin to its former glory, and she went through it all with a smile on her face.

until she was told that she was dying.

i’m sure that everyone diagnosed with a terminal illness knows that one day, the disease will take their life. it’s an unspoken truth that holds great power in being verbalised, made organic only by words.

i felt it during the few minutes between the time she stopped breathing and the time i declared her dead. before i looked her son in his eyes and told him his mother had gone, everyone in the room held onto the slim possibility that she could wake up if she wanted to, that her flawless skin wasn’t a shade of grey, that her death was merely an illusion.

“i’m sorry, but she is dead.”

…and a floodgate of tears and broken prayers came crashing into the void left by her last breath as it floated from her body.

one year of housemanship and i still feel my heart break when someone dies, especially when it’s out of defeat. it’s a reminder that medicine is more than drugs and vital signs, it has alot to do with optimism and hope.

at least i know oncology is not the field for me.


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