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  • Writer's pictureCasper de Leuw

22 years ago versus today



On the 25th of June, 2001, my mother died. She had breast cancer which by then had spread everywhere. She knew she was going to die, and seemed to be fully at peace with it. She told us around 8 months before that her cancer had spread, and that she chose not to receive any chemo therapy or other forms of treatment anymore since those would only make her suffer more. In the last months of her life she received a lot of visitors at home, and somehow she always managed to make her visitors leave happier or more at ease compared to how they came in.


Today, 22 years later, is a day to look back and reflect, and naturally my mind wanders off trying to find similarities and differences between my mother and my wife's situation.


Of course the most glaring similarity is their disease. And it reminds me of one of my most terrible jokes ever, which was my reply to a doctor a few years ago when we just discovered that Angele was sick. He asked if there were any known cases in the family. To which I said "yes, she married into it!" The doctor did not really know how to reply, Angele tried to save the situation by saying "but we know it doesn't work like that" but I still think it's funny...


But apart from sharing the same disease, sharing a similar disgust towards how many (but not all) doctors approach this disease, working really hard to find alternative approaches, and them both trying to stay positive and loving towards everything and everyone around them despite being in a really dire situation, I don't want to look for more similarities. Today that is a lot harder than other days, since their situations are still completely different, yet the same.


When my mom stopped eating we knew the end was near. When Angele started eating again, we knew she wasn't done yet. And as long as she eats and meditates there's hope for a future. I'm still looking at it day by day, but she's been home now for 3 weeks. And these weeks have been relatively stable. I am really hoping that I can put her in her wheelchair by the end of the coming week but we'll see if we manage.


Today she had a meditation session at 6:30, followed by change of medication and a wash. Then she ate a yoghurt, Jessie gave her a full banana bite by bite (the utter joy on both their face was priceless!), then she ate a brownie and now she's back to sleep. After the pills at 12 she ate another (half) brownie and now she's meditating again. And this rhythm has been like this for the past week and I hope we can continue and improve upon this for the foreseeable future.


She still has small fits every now and then, especially at the end of exhausting days, and sleeps the majority of the time. She has good moments, bad moments, moments of total confusion. Sharp moments, with awareness of time and place, but at times mixing words and expressions. She is looking forward to go to our meditation retreat in Vienna but also realizes there's a long way to go.


So today is a day to look back and reflect upon, and a day to look forward to a different future, and a day to realize that I will keep on pushing and being as positive as humanly possible to get my lovely wife to Vienna.

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