Wednesday, December 14, 2011

“Fall seven times, stand up eight”

This quote is posted on the website of our friend who has stage 4 cancer. The one whom I wrote about at the beginning of November, who was intubated and expected to pass away soon.

Well...he didn't pass away. He eventually got extubated, which we thought was a miracle. He managed to get out of the ICU and into a regular oncology ward room, which we thought was amazing. Then he had the feeding tube removed, then he went to rehab, and now this week, he is back "home" or at their temporary apartment at least, since they came all the way across the country to get him help here in NYC.

We can hardly believe it - it is incredible. Outstanding, a miracle.

Make no mistake, he is a very, very sick man, but we are so pleased that he is going to hopefully be able to survive longer than everyone expected - and in the process have more time with his wife and 4-year-old child. And hopefully now that he is home, he can die on his own terms, however he wants to have that happen, surrounded by his wife and toddler and mother and sister, in as comfortable and as dignified a way as possible. And that is really good news within the context of this terrible situation.

Not exactly sure how this quote applies to our friend's situation - he has certainly fallen and stood back up multiple times, showing incredible perseverance. But I think now his journey is about something else. He could choose to try to "beat" the cancer if that's what he wants to do, and although that's impossible, it wouldn't be a bad stance to take. But I think it would be just as honorable and courageous to do something else. Something like, choose to fall as gently as possible, or choose to give oneself permission to fall and not worry so much about the standing again part.

I guess that's sort of the question that comes up for me when I read this quote: what does a proverb like this mean when you are facing not being able to keep standing up? Where is the line between "giving up" and accepting a tragic and unwanted reality?

I don't know the answer. But however our friend navigates the coming days and weeks, we wish him good management for his pain. We wish him as much time with his wife and daughter as possible. We wish that he feels viscerally the love of all those around him. We wish him peace.


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  1. That is, indeed, amazing. I am so delighted for your friend and his family. And yes, thought-provoking post: when does one try again and when ... not. It's something so many of us struggle with, in so many different contexts.

  2. I think that accepting that you are going to live child-free (or more actively "deciding") isn't so much falling or giving up as having to stand up in a different way. My impression of those who've come to that conclusion is that there's a certain amount of relief and rejuvenation involved - alongside the inevitable sadness and regret.

  3. Beautiful story of an unimaginable situation. Thanks for posting... and my best wishes to your friend and his family.

  4. An uplifting story, and inspiring to those of us in this struggle. Thanks for sharing...

  5. How heartbreaking. Hoping he is kept comfortable in these final days. He sounds like a real fighter.

  6. Wow, that's amazing. Ditto to all you said.

  7. I love that quote. It is amazing that your friend was able to leave the hospital and what an awesome gift to be with his family for a bit. I know they will treasure that time. You wrote it so well.

    Been thinking of you a lot lately. So I gave you a blog award. See my blog for details. :)

  8. Beautiful post...makes us count our blessings and be thankful.

  9. Praying for him and his family, and hoping that he goes on his own terms, the way he wants to, and in peace.


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