One in a series of stories asking former patients to reflect upon their experience ...
We asked comedian and former Hodgkin lymphoma patient Sean Kent to look back at the time of his diagnosis, and ask himself, what do you know now that you wish you’d known then? What wisdom, soothing words or practical tips, would you give your newly diagnosed self?
He responded with so much good advice that we're posting it in six installments. The first installment was about guilt, the second about food, the third about the hospital buddy, the fourth about patients vs. patience, the fifth about speaking up for yourself.
Here’s the sixth, titled “The Glorious Ending.”
Last, I want to tell you something that’s not in the “wish I’d known” category, but I feel it’s something you should hear.
There is an end to all of it.
Someday the doctors will pull that last needle of poison out of your arm and never put another one in.
Seriously. I know you don’t believe me, but it’s true.
Someday the suffering will end. Someday you’ll walk out of the hospital a free person who never has to go to another chemo appointment again.
You see, cancer happens in three distinct stages.
First, you are diagnosed and you freak out.
Then, second, you go through the horrible, annihilating, torturous, craptastic treatment that’s needed to get you well.
Then, finally, just when it seems you can’t take anymore “medicine,” when the cure is worse than the disease, when you have no veins left to offer the nurses and their sharp sticks, when you can’t take the smell of the hospital one more time or the sight of your sickly self anymore – you finish your treatment and go home. Free forever.
It’s really that simple. Of course it will take you a while to regain your strength and to get over the mental trauma of what you’ve been through. Don’t underestimate that.
But you are done with the pain. You are done with the nausea. You are done being a patient. In fact, you are just you again and really, what a wonderful thing to be.
Here’s the deal with your treatment – it has an ending. An ending in which the cancer fades from your body in the same manner as it will eventually fade from your memory.
Keep that in mind through every blood draw, through every necessary drug they put in you. Hold on to it through every sleepless night or painful bone marrow biopsy you are made to suffer.
Please remember that someday it WILL be over and you WILL be well.
Smile when you think of this. Laugh when you think of this.
Cry tears of joy in recognition of this truth.
Because someday you will walk out of that hospital for the last time as a sick person and you will rejoin the world as a vital force for good, for compassion, for others in need.
Keep that goal in mind, keep that end in sight, think about it, dream about it. I beg you.
It’s there, waiting for you.
You just have to grab it.