Oct 08

Writ large in our eyes

His hands are wringing, frail and wasted with disease, bones straining to break through stretched paper thin skin. Yellowed blood shot eyes staring up at me with a pleading expression, seeking out my eyes for some truth, some answers, some hope. Myself, reflected back in those glassy jaundiced pools of desperation, compassionate but struggling to show the hope required.  Trying to master my emotions and find the balance of empathy and composure; to show my support and care without giving false reassurances. 

I’ve seen these eyes before… The colour of the skin that housed them may have been a lighter shade, the heat of the day may have been cooler and the sounds, if not the meaning, of the language we exchanged may have been different… But the eyes. The eyes and all they express are the same. 

The first time it was my father, helping him come to terms with the terminal prognosis of his pancreatic cancer. By this point he was very sick, at the end of the road, having exhausted all the treatment options available in Western medicine over several years. This time, it was also a man, of a similar age, with the same condition. But this man would not have the luxury of seeking further treatment, to stretch out his hopes and his time with his loved ones. This man had already sold most of his land and property trying to afford transport and investigations to get his diagnosis confirmed. This man had resigned himself to return home with his wife and live out his last few days with what dignity he still could. 

Different men, different countries, different social circumstances. Yet cancer knows nothing of this and human suffering is universal, writ large in the eyes… yours… mine … Ours.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.clairemariethomas.com/2015/10/writ-large-in-our-eyes/

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