As I sit here and ponder about life (no…not in the sitting position of “The Thinker”), definitely not on hard stone; I keep thinking how mystical…how magical life is. What it has to offer…what we can contribute or give to this “life”. Living…what is that? It is one of life’s mysteries.
We set the alarm clock (well, at least some of us do) each night, expecting it to ring and wake us up the next morning for us to start our day. We take it as a given.
We complain about the weather, either it is too hot (humid in Malaysia) or it rains as if there is no tomorrow (It’s about to storm [12.16pm now]). We coffeeshop-talk about the guy who wears his sagging udders on his shirt, or the seemingly uncontrollable rising costs of living. And the list goes on. There is this incessant need to complain. This is probably because we take each day as a sure thing. It is natural. We don’t have to learn to live? Or do we?
One day, a few months ago; I was on my usual daily 15 kilometer walk. My usual route which is around our neighbourhood; is a 1.5kilometer loop x 10 laps.
As I came to the middle of a lap; I was about to turn left into a side alley between two rows of houses. I saw Liz standing in front of her house, just outside her gate. I think she was admiring all her small plants growing neatly in front at what the English will call the “curb” and the Americans, “sidewalk”.
I have known Liz for about three years, by sight, whenever she drives past me either when she is going out or returning home. She never fails to give a big smile either when she waves to me or returns my wave whenever she drives past.
A few months ago, I chanced upon meeting Liz for the first time when I saw her outside her house with her two young children looking for her children’s pet tortoise which went missing. I told her that her home is one of the houses I love passing by. It is because of the aroma I get as I pass her kitchen – its always inviting. She’s an awesome cook.
Months went by since then, until very recently; when I did my walk one late evening. Liz was there, outside her house; admiring her plants. She looked different, with her hair cut real short, not her usual hairstyle. I remarked to her that it was a long time since we last met.
Liz, then told me that she was very sick, that she had cancer. That it was a relapse. It is in its 4th stage.
The cancer she has is Neuroendocrine tumor (NET). (2)
She has a year or less to live.
My heart sank. I was nervous.
She was very calm. I looked into her eyes. I saw peace. She was not afraid of dying. She has come to terms with it.
Liz treats each second of living with great reverence. She exuberates radiance.
We talked about her husband and their two young children. I told Liz that I will be available for her anytime, just a call away. Jeannie and I have Liz in our prayers daily.
I asked her if I could pen a few words about her, “LIZ“. She immediately agreed. She said she wants to share her story with others that there is always hope. Keep hoping, regardless of how tough a situation may be. Life is beautiful.
Liz and I have been in touch though messaging. 3 days ago, she told me that her condition seems to have worsened and that she would have to go for another round of chemotherapy. The following is a text I just received from her: “Dr showed me the result.. hmm .. not so good la… Next week seeing onco Dr. Need another round of chemo😂”
Liz continues to inspire me and others that life is a gift. We have no control; of when it comes and when it goes. What we make of it in between that…we are the author of that story.
Neuroendocrine tumors are cancers that begin in specialized cells called neuroendocrine cells. Neuroendocrine cells have traits similar to those of nerve cells and hormone-producing cells. Neuroendocrine tumors are rare and can occur anywhere in the body.