What a disaster I thought, as I listened to the referral. A 44 year old man had become unwell in the Pacific Islands and had been urgently transferred to New Zealand for assessment and treatment. He had an abdominal mass lesion which was extremely painful after having had massive weight loss over the previous two months. He had been a great orator and had been destined to be a future leader of his church. He was married without children.
He and his wife had come over two months ago and things had not been good at all. He had been diagnosed with a large abdominal mass found to be cancer with spinal cord compression and lung metastases. The impression was that there was nothing that could be done medically for him, and that he should try to return back to the Islands as soon as possible as his condition would likely deteriorate quickly.
Travel arrangements were made for him and his wife to return back home in the following week, but he became acutely unwell before he could finish arranging his journey. A difficult situation, thousands of miles from home, with little in the way of family members or support locally. Displaced, stuck, and also critically unwell.
He had moved over to New Zealand because of the Lord of the Rings Trilogy. He had loved the scenery in those movies and had wanted his son to grow up in the country that the films had been made. They’d moved over six years ago, and had worked hard since arrival, building a better life for themselves.
He and his wife were high school sweethearts, they were also University classmates and after graduation they had married. Their son was now 10 years old. They had settled in Auckland and devoted a lot of time into growing their own demolition business.
Their idyll was smashed by the wrecking ball of illness when he suddenly had a seizure. He couldn’t remember what happened but it had been frightening for his wife and son. He regained consciousness in hospital and bad news was related to them. He had a mass in his brain. A scan of his body revealed a lung cancer. He didn’t smoke, and had no family history of cancer. Bad luck had brought cancer into his life, and it had spread aggressively to his liver, to the other lung, and into his brain causing the seizure. It ignored his behest, “You shall not pass!”
He talked about his regrets. He had moved thousands of miles away from his family in Asia, all the way to this country with the beautiful scenery. They had worked so hard that they never had time to leave Auckland, he had barely crossed the Auckland Harbour Bridge. He had never seen in person the spectacular vistas that had drawn him and his family over. He wished he had spent more time with his only son. He knew that he would be leaving his wife soon and she would have to raise their boy alone, that nothing could stop him from dying.
Agonised tears flowed like the waters of the Tawhai Falls, where Gollum was filmed catching a fish, another place he never had a chance to visit. His desolation much worse than any a dragon could’ve wrought.