Tuesday, 2 June 2009

Racing for Life.

Yesterday I had the priveledge of meeting a man, who only for a couple of minutes, has impacted my life forever. He has given me his consent and blessing to share his story in the hope that even the smallest difference can be made. As for Mark, it is too late as his 31 years of life is coming to an end.

You may have heard this type of story before. However, I still feel compelled to reach out and share with you all. Mark this is for you and I do hope I have done it justice.

Two years ago I decided to do my Nurse's training. I decided to do something that was worthy, made an impact, stretched my thinking and allowed me to learn a whole new scope of skills. However, there was one thing I did not expect when I doned this student nurse uniform for the first time.


The incredible stories I would hear and become apart of.

Whenever I meet a patient for the first time I always try and have a small coversation with them so I can understand their illness and background. I much prefer it to reading their medical notes because they know their own body and their issues. Yesterday I had the blessing of meeting Mark. He was 31 years old with Liver and Colon cancer. He has 3 weeks to live and now receiving palliative care instead of medical treatment as there is no cure. Before our meeting I was told to go on my lunch break but I vetoed that idea when I saw Mark looking out of the window and smiling infectiously to himself.

I just felt compelled to go and smile with him. He was sitting and smiling out of the window at the cars going past on the roundabout. He was so silent but he was very aware of my presense. We didn't converse for about a minute but it was comfortable. I will tell you something I loved about Mark from our first meeting. He didn't know me but he sure had an uncanny ability to read my mind. He intricately knew what I wanted to say but too afraid to place into words...coherent words at that.

'I'm not afraid you know, Rebecca. Why be afraid of something that is going to happen to all of us?'

I did not know what to say or let alone how he knew my name until I realised I was wearing my name badge. In fact, I had lots of reasons for why he should have been afraid because even though death is coming for us all it doesn't mean we are ready/expect it at 31 - does it? Mark asked me (he was so sweet!) if could speak more to me. He explained how he had a moment of clarity when he was looking out of the window just then to the outside world he always thought he would be apart of for much longer.

And it was at this point in time where I just silently cried to myself. My heart hurt but my mind just soaked up and savoured all that he said. I could repeat it over and over again, so I will. This is Mark. This is his message :-).

In the midst of knowing that sooner rather than later my closest company will be the bugs in my grave I know that I have led a decent life. A happy life. I am thinking a lot at the moment of my wonderful partner, my beautiful three year old daughter, my family and incredible friends. Yes I am 31 and yes I desperately do not want to leave them. But those people and my job are my biggest achievements in creating 31 years of pure happiness. As I saw the life moving steadily outside today, and it may have only been cars or birds crapping on them, I have prepared myself for this eventuality. I know your're sad, aren't you?'

Too right I was sad and it wasn't even me with the disease. I agreed with what he asked and let him carry on. I was in complete awe of what he was saying. Not because he was a 'dying man' but because he was a living man speaking on behalf of everyone in his predicament. I just could not take my ears away from his words.

'I really wanted the treatment to work, Rebecca. I desperately wanted to show to everyone that I had beaten cancer. My family and medical team's treatment and support warranted that outcome! My little girl deserves to have her Daddy around for much longer. My mind still wants to do all the things that a 31 year old wants to do - but I can't. Yet, I am okay with that because there are so many success stories out there and that was why I was just smiling then. I have just been unlucky, exceptionally unlucky! Instead of being the beacon I wanted to be in shining out about my defeat against cancer. I want to now be a beacon of light to prove that people still can.'

I lost it and I really tried to hold it together. Instead, I had the patient taking care of me. It was lucky the door was closed because God knows what people outside would have been thinking. I had known Mark for just ten minutes and he had probably taught me more than I could have ever asked for in a whole month. I mentioned I was doing Race for Life this weekend and he hugged me so belatedly. I could not have wiped the smile from his face if I tried.

As he hugged me he whispered: 'See what I mean about the beacon of light? You can run for people with cancer and who are about to be diagnosed with cancer. 31 years of age has no bearing on whether you survive or not. It's how you get your message across, that's what matters.'

Mark has been given a couple of weeks at the most to live and we joked that he better stretch it out until Saturday because I am running for him - for everyone. I would ask for a miracle but more importantly I am setting out to achieve what he has wanted to do since he was first diagnosed to when his cancer was defined 'incurable.'

'It's how you get your message across, that's what really matters.' This Saturday I am running Race for Life. A run that is designed to raise money and awareness to find a cure for cancer. Having the blessing of meeting Mark this week has driven me further to do this more profoundly. I have nursed far too many cancer patients and I know the word cancer is said far too often and scares people far too much.

If you would like to help me then please do by sponsoring me on this link (thank you Colette!), doing a post to raise awareness of the run or any other ideas are welcomed! I would be utterly grateful. Here is the link. It may have been too late to have saved Mark but the money raised over the years is paying for treatment to extend life and it allowed Mark to celebrate his little girl's 3rd birthday last week! Amazing!

I am going to finish off Mark's last words to me as I exited his room. 'You know in the adverts when they say. Together we will beat Cancer? It's true. We can't do it on our own and I just don't want it to be too late for someone else. Give me something to smile about when I'm flying above you.'

Mark, I am never going to forget you. Thank you so very much for telling me your story and dreams. Oh and the next time a bird decides to poop on my Car. I think I can vouch that your the one who concocted it.

11 comments:

Stephanie RN BSN (to be!) said...

Dog gone you...you got me crying :-(

I will donate as soon as I get paid. My checking account is empty right now, or I would donate now.

I do what I want! said...

okay I'm for sure all teary eyed now. What a beautiful story. Thanks for sharing it with us! I bet you that you skipping your lunch break and spending a little bit of time hearing what he had to say was just what he needed. You were there to lend an ear and smile with him. You are such a strong caring girl and I admire that. Keep doing what you do because you are so good at it and I know some day you are going to be one of the best nurses ever.

~April

Patrice said...

This is such a beautiful post!!! Omg. Thank you for sharing!! I'm going to hit up my mom for money & I'll be back to donate for sure!

student101 said...

oh my gosh... what a powerful story! thanks for sharing!

Candy Hart said...

That was the most beautiful story i've ever heard! Your patients are really lucky to have a great nurse like you working with them!!!

Lauren said...

I love those kinds stories, it's so powerful! Thank you for sharing!

Librarian or Teacher said...

That's such a touching story, once again it's easy to see how much of an impact nurses make.

I'll be praying for Mark.

Colette said...

I cried! This was one of the most touching things I've ever read.

When someone faces terminal illness with as much grace as Mark does it just seems all the more tragic.

I'll be praying for him and his family.

I hope you can keep us updated about him.

Brooke said...

Thanks for this post. My Grandfather is also receiving pallative care. It's nice to know that it's possible to be ok with what it about to happen to you in those last days and weeks.

Mere said...

Oh my. What a tear-jerking post! I'm so happy to hear that he is using his last weeks on this earth to impact others. That is really something special. Thanks for sharing this.

Love, Mere

P.S. I added you to my blog read list on the side of my blog!! xoxo

Mary said...

What a great experience! Believe me when I say there will be so many more patients that will touch your heart that you will never forget!

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