Friday, March 26, 2010

Have Faith: Reasonable vs False Hope

*Tribute to Mas Afzal Masarudin*

There is a boy who wishes to accomplish many things in his life. He worked his socks off in school, strived for excellence and eventually garnered top grades in his studies. He wanted to fulfill his lifelong ambition of becoming a good doctor, and his wishes came true when he was offered a scholarship to pursue medicine.

Until this point of time, life has always gone by his wishes. What he aspired in life all came true. Growing from a little child into adulthood has been a rewarding experience for him, one filled with joy and happiness. Even though there were bumps along the way, he felt that nothing could stop his march towards achieving great things in life.

But this is when his life took a turn for the worst, as he is afflicted with a test he has never thought could jeopardize all his plans. He might not be able to live up to his dreams of being the best doctor possible. He possibly has to forget his plans of having his own ideal family and his very own beautiful children. The so many great things he aspire in life might just in the end, be dreams.

This is a story of a boy who has faced so many trials and tribulations.

And this is his story about HOPE…

I was given a thirty-days-to-live prognosis. It was lung cancer. I’d previously had one lung removed. Now, four months later, the cancer was back. This time it was in my ribs and lymph system. The surgeon put his hand on my shoulder and said,

“The tiger is out of the cage. Your cancer has come roaring back. I would give you about thirty days to live.”

Part of the reason that the surgeon was mistaken is that no healthcare provider can predict a person’s response to illness. After several days of believing I would die, I made a profound decision.

I decided to live.

Please understand clearly what I am saying. By deciding to live I made a decision to do all I could to triumph over the cancer. I was determined to live each day I was given to the very best of my ability. I chose not to focus on the despair communicated in the surgeon’s words. I would instead adopt a stance of hopefulness. These decisions dramatically changed my experience of illness. They resulted not only in better days but many more days as well. I believe such decision by you may result in a similar outcome.

“Hope is some extraordinary spiritual grace that God gives us to control our fears, not to oust them…”

This message has its vocal critics. It’s controversial. More than once, esteemed members of the health-care community have publicly accused me of spreading false hope. My answer is simple and direct.

I believe there is no such thing as false hope. There is only REASONABLE hope. Reasonable hope is a medicine worthy of consumption in large doses.

What is clearly false is a doctor’s pronouncement that sets a limit on the amount of time a patient may have left to live. That’s “false hopelessness”. It is false because no human being knows how long anyone has left to live.

My response to the surgeon was strong. I said,

“Thank you doctor. You’ve given me thirty days to live. Wow! That’s wonderful because God only gives me one day at a time!”

Healers instill hope. They do not schedule death.

There is no such thing as hopeless. Decide to live – today! Embrace hope deep within your spirit. It heals. It is a decision that always lead to greater quality in our days. I also believe it leads to a greater quantity of our days.

Two paths are before you. One is marked by the road signs of passivity and despair;the other by the guideposts of ENGAGEMENT and HOPE. You have a choice.

Please, choose hope.

If you have been told that your time is limited, believe that life can still be a fulfilling adventure. Choose to live life to the very fullest. Focus on the possibilities, not the problem. Affirm that each day is a good and perfect gift in spite of the circumstances of illness.

Keep you thoughts on hope and healing. In that intentional choice are the seeds of your cancer recovery. Water those seeds, not the weeds.

Without question, you can improve your potential for survival. What you do makes a significant difference. Believe it: there is no such thing as a hopeless situation.

I have been given a similar so-called ‘death sentence’. 3 months has passed, and by the will of Allah, here I am, still standing, still given the chance to strive. And I believe, it is a sign from my Creator that He wants me to not lose hope just yet.

Even when the world says “Give up Mas!”, hope whispers “Try it one more time.”

And I, will therefore keep on battling.


No matter how hard things can be, the boy knew he must try to swallow it. Bitter it might taste, trials and tribulations are part and parcel of life. He knew that life in this world is only temporary, a transition point, before he embarks on an eternal journey in a different place. A place he hopes to be in, where he knows there will only be joy and happiness therein, with no pains and sufferings. A place where whatever the boy wishes, will come true. A place that boy knows as Jannah, or heaven.

But until that time comes, the boy knows that he has to keep on fighting. Life is indeed a struggle, and what has transpired over the last year or so has taught him a lot about fortitude.
The boy is not going to let the things he experienced over the last week to deter him from BELIEVING. No matter how far the boy falls down, he will get up again. And again. And he will do so until His Creator tells him that it is TIME.

Do remember this boy in your prayers.

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