Who’s the patient of whom?
Volunteer and psychologist of the Fundación María Cecilia de ayuda al niño oncológico (Argentina)
I was 19 years old when I first came to the Foundation. Young and eager to help out. What I didn’t imagine is how much they were going to help me.
Honestly, I never imagined that help would be with these kinds of diseases. But life has its mysteries and without understanding much how, I was suddenly a volunteer. I helped in the playroom where children have fun while waiting to be seen by doctors. Then, as time went on, I also went to visit and play with them when they had to be hospitalized. And his way years passed… and I stayed.
Today, 16 years later, I’m still here and I am one of the psychologists on the treatment team. I do not stay by inertia: I stay because I heal. I stay because I learn. I stay because of what I share with others because of how we grow together. I stay because here I understood the importance of helping one another, of walking together, of being able to lean on someone else. When were we made believe that we were alone? How much pain false belief brings us. What if in the end… loneliness is just a tale?
Here I understood the importance of helping one another, of walking together, of being able to lean on someone else.
It is strange how the place that led me to enter into a deep crisis of meaning, because of how unfair the disease was for me, is the same one that today brings meaning to my life. What confronted me with the fragility of life is what taught me to live better.
There have been many times where I thought about giving up, about leaving. I had crises of all kinds and colors. Because it also HURTS. Life hurts. I wish we could learn this from kids so we could be more prepared.
Today I understand that pretending that life doesn’t hurt is the same as living under anesthesia. And if we choose to live anesthetized, shielded, we don’t just avoid pain, we also risk living without feeling love.
In the Foundation, I learned that in the most challenging situations, what is superficial vanishes, and what is beautiful comes into sight. The unexpected. And only what is important matters: affection, bonds… I was witness to the immeasurable love that parents feel for their children and the love that children feel for their parents. You would be surprised how they care for them.
I saw in doctors, nurses, volunteers, psychologists, the genuine desire to want to help someone.
In the most challenging situations, what is superficial vanishes, and what is beautiful comes into sight. The unexpected. And only what is important matters: affection, bonds...
I saw that only in so extreme situations is when the transcendent appears. It seems as they are like shortcuts for us to meet again, to unite.
Of course, I wouldn’t want it to be like this either, through a disease. But there, once again, I have to surrender to the mystery of the painful and the deeply loving… the beautiful and the difficult. All together. Hand in hand.
In his book Los Guachos, Roberto M. Torres explains it in a way that made sense to me. He says: “I understood that reality was wiser than my desires. During my entire life I had figured out, whimsically, how things should be. However, destiny did not come the way I thought it should, according to my little mind. From that day forward, my days were transformed. I understood that life is everything, construction and destruction, love and hate, loss and gain, everything. Luck and misfortune too, why not? From what misbegotten place did I get the idea that things were not like this or that they should be otherwise?” Sure. Life is EVERYTHING.
Patients and their families showed me that all that matters is the love we share. The love we provide to everything we do and to every situation.
It’s still hard for me. But I try and not question it so much. I just surrender and try to trust that reality is wiser than my desires. And I don’t want to anesthetize myself so that it doesn’t hurt. To live without taking the risk of loving. My patients. Their families. Because then I would lose the bond that unites us and the value that is to share our lives. To let myself be challenged by them and discover my own pain and my fears as well. They showed me that all that matters is the love we share. The love we provide to everything we do and to every situation.
Therefore, to them, the patients and their families, forever. ALL MY RESPECT.
Thank you for letting me be. For joining us. For walking together.
So then, in the interdependence that makes us human… Who is the patient of whom?