By Tashinga Wazara, Zimbabwe:
I have been reading your letter over and over again and I am overwhelmed by it. Ever since I was diagnosed with cancer last year and the doctor said that I had between three and five years to live depending on how well I respond to treatment there has been a dark cloud that has hovered over me, reminding me that every day I wake up in the morning is bringing me closer to my demise. It has been difficult. I used to have dreams of one day getting married and having four children. I even had names for them. If my first born had been a boy I was going to name him Joshua, after my father. If it had been a girl I was going to name her Esther. I have always liked that name, I think it's beautiful. I knew exactly what I wanted to do with my career. I had just finished my Master's degree in mercantile law and I had just started working at Wintertons Legal Practitioners. My plan was to work my way up and eventually become a Partner at the firm. I had a plan. The future was bright. But that light was put out that day when the doctor delivered the fateful news of my terminal illness.
Ever since that day, the only future I have is tomorrow. Some days I wake up and I feel ok and have a good day. Other days I feel really sick and I can't get out of bed. I get tired of my family smothering me and fussing over me asking me how I am feeling and my mother's pained face every time I have to go for chemotherapy. I know she loves me and she would gladly take my place in a heartbeat if it was possible but sometimes I just wish she would just act normal because the more she coddles me the more I'm reminded of my illness but I know she can't help it, the cancer is probably affecting her more than it is affecting me.
The one thing that has helped me to deal with my condition has been my relationship with God. Knowing that God loves me and that He has reserved a place for me in heaven has allowed me to look my situation in a different light. I am not as afraid of death as I was before as I realize that 'to live is Christ and to die is gain' because the only reason that we are all alive is because God has allowed it to be so and if I die then it is God's will and I will accept that. Ultimately He is in control and I have chosen to surrender myself completely to His will.
The other thing that has helped me to deal with my cancer has been you. Whenever I am with you, that dark cloud which is always over me disappears and I am happy. I have always kept myself very guarded and I hardly ever let anyone in but you somehow managed to find a way through my defenses with your warm eyes, sweet spirit and great sense of humour. I feel safe when I am with you and I love that you listen and you are patient with me even though I am sometimes a bit moody but now you know that it is because of my cancer. Oh and thank you for never complaining even though I am ALWAYS late when we meet up. You're too sweet.
I have been thinking a lot about what you said, that you want us to carry on our relationship in spite of my cancer. The thing is that I am dying and I don't think it's fair on you to take up the emotional burden that comes with my illness. It will be a lot of tough days, especially with the chemotherapy and how it affects my body. I get really sick and it gets scary sometimes because I don't know if I'll make it to the next day. I will shout at you, I will want to give up. Sometimes I will just want to be alone. So if we are to carry on our relationship, I want you to promise me that if it gets too difficult for you or if you think that you cannot handle it anymore, that you will let me know. I don't know how long I have left to live but I do know that whatever time I have left I want to spend it with you. Let us just take it one day at a time. You say your love for me is your disease, well for me it has been a cure for my soul because even though physically I am dying, you make me feel alive. I love you.
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