Our existence is fragile. I learned that in many intricate ways, so I do not take today for granted. I do not know what tomorrow will bring. I do not even know if tomorrow will come.
On the eve of Thanksgiving 2016, I received the diagnosis of stage 4 lung cancer. Next to dying, I fear the spread of cancer to my brain and losing my ability to think, speak, or write. This loss would be devastating to me.
The fragility of our life made me want to be authentic. Therefore, I am writing this memoir to be authentic—we become our true selves when we author who we are.
I am afraid of being forgotten. Death does frighten me. But more than dying, I am scared of having no one remember me or, even worse, of being recognized differently from who I was. At the same time, I have never thought that I was entitled to ask others not to forget me. But, not to be forgotten is precisely what I yearn for.
While I am writing for the other, I am simultaneously writing for myself. I am one of the readers and will test the subject as it gets written. My criteria are stricter. I want to say, “This is my narrative.”
I need to be able to say, “This is my narrative.”Patients with cancer often have an urgency to find meaning in life. They struggle with the illness, its emotional impact, and the consequences of treatments. However, with time, reflection, and support from others, they develop resilience. Cancer patients often are not passive. Instead, they choose different strategies to maintain and restore their health. They also leverage a variety of approaches to cope better with their struggle.
The book is for cancer patients who are tarrying at the limits of time. It is also for those who live around patients with cancer: caregivers, families and friends, and health care providers. People who struggle with other illnesses will also find aspects of their story reflected here. Also, the ones who have experienced a crisis of identity will discover elements of their story here as well. By sharing the experiences of the forty authentic individuals, the book opens the space for them to teach others. This book is about the essence of the human experience at its limits. It is for every reader.
Buy the book, and follow the author on social media:
Learn more about the writer. Visit the Author’s Website.
Buy the Book On Amazon.
Like the Authors Facebook Fan Page.
Follow On Twitter.
Morhaf Al Achkar, MD, Ph.D. (1983-) was born in Aleppo-Syria and migrated to the United States in 2006 after finishing medical school. He also obtained a Ph.D. in Education from Indiana University. Currently, he is a practicing family physician and a faculty member at the University of Washington.
In 2016, Morhaf was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer. Since then, his research has focused on the experience of patients living with lung cancer. His writing is based on interviews he did with 39 patients who live, like him, with incurable cancers. He explores how these patients find meaning, cope, and build resilience.