A Good things Guy reader believes that good things can happen during abnormal times, and shared a candid story of how COVID-19 actually saved his life.
Johannesburg, South Africa (19 January 2021) – An avid Good Things Guy reader – wrote an open letter to us about how COVID-19 saved his life – that we felt we needed to share with you too!
Read it below:
Dear Brent and the Good Things Guy team,
I have been wanting to write to you for a while now, but it has been very difficult to find the courage, the will, and the inclination to do so, because of the space that 2020 had me in for a while.
But first I want to say that I really really want to thank you for always being ready with your positive outlook. I follow you every single day, and read everything you put out into the world; we seem to be in tune because, holy Molly, I find inspiration in all your posts as I seem to, most days, be going through the same emotions as you are, and probably most of the country, and the rest of the world for that matter.
Your posts inspire me, to restart every day, without your positive outlook, I do not think I would get through each day, but because I see that others are going through almost the same as me, it gives me hope that there is a future out there post Covid-19 – and as they say in the classic, as long as there is hope – there is light, and you certainly shine enough of that on me every single day, so from the bottom of my heart I want to so thank you for everything you do to give hope in dark times – it can’t be easy. I am sure it takes a strain on you too, but you do it anyway because you are a good person, you have empathy, and you are inspirational.
“2020, to say the least, was a KAK year for a lot of the world, I was not spared.”
Firstly the business I have painstakingly and lovingly built over the past 21 years, lies in tatters, in a matter of hours it went from success to shreds, like you, I am in the eventing and exhibition industry, and without having to tell you, work has almost been none existent, the odd online stuff that we do is in no way as sustainable as the work we did in the real world. I spent over 21 years building my business, been through tough and good times in the past, but never like these times!
I am approaching my 49th birthday in a week from now, and as I contemplate the year ahead, I feel I have not much to look forward to, apart from the fact that I survived 2020. Everything I worked hard for in the past 201odd years is gone, I lost everything and have nothing to show for my previous efforts, I live off the generosity of my family it really is not cool.
Last year in July, I caught the virus, I was admitted to hospital in an ambulance, my oxygen levels were boarder line below 60% when I was admitted to Life Fourways, when they should be above 95%, under normal circumstances. In fact, I am very fortunate to be here today and writing to you, for all intents and purposes I should not have pulled through, but I did, thanks to the brilliant and resilient team of nurses and doctors that treated me at Life Fourways Hospital.
Although they were exhausted themselves, they gave relentlessly and found the energy somehow, somewhere, every single day to carry on treating me and the other Covid-19 patients that filled the entire Covid-19 wards at Life Fourways, on a daily basis, despite putting their own lives in danger every day to make sure they did everything possible within their abilities, and beyond, to keep us alive. I will be forever grateful, as these real life heroes and heroines showed me that no matter what, there is a reason to keep going and to keep fighting – things will get better – you just have to hope, believe, and never give up, Daily life is a fight, and the fight must go on because if you give up then surely all hope is lost, that I learned from the front line workers … they always had hope, they always started each day with a smile and encouragement to us in the hospital beds to keep fighting and when we went to bed at night they too, although exhausted, still had a smile on their faces and encouragement in their voices for us to fight through the night to see another sunrise, to see another day, all whilst they stood by, wide awake 24 hours a day, looking after us, and helping us to fight the fight… after going into hospital feeling sorry for myself, I came out alive, and feeling inspired, and irritated with myself of having had a defeatist attitude and a sense of hopelessness.
“If the front line workers can do what they do, each and every day, with little or no recognition at all, and put their lives on the line for complete strangers, then I felt I owed it to myself to carry on, and to start again.”
However, 2020 was not done with me yet. When I went for my 30-day post-Covid-90 check-up with the specialist physician that had treated me, Dr Shehnaaz Khan – a brilliant physician that I literally owe my life to, not once but twice, it was at this consultation with her that she noticed a lesion on my chest that she was not happy with, and immediately called her partner Dr Mark Jose – a specialist surgeon, to have a look at it – he immediately insisted on doing a biopsy and within a week had me in the theatre to remove 11 skin lesions that he was not happy with, and sent all to the lab for biopsy. A week later, I was sitting in his rooms to get the results, and that’s when the next possible death sentence was conveyed to me. One of the lesions, the original one that Dr Khan did not like the look of, was diagnosed as a malignant melanoma.
“I had cancer… twice in one year, twice within as many months I would be back in Fourways Life, fighting for my life.”
Dr Jose again immediately said that he had to put me back into the theatre to do a wide-area excision around the melanoma to make sure it was properly removed, but at the same time he wanted to do a nuclear gamma probe to see the depth of the melanoma because he was concerned that it might have metastasized into a lymph node and from there spread to the rest of my organs, skin cancer or melanoma, once spread into the lymph system results in a mortality of between 6 – 18 months, very few people survive more than 5 years! – you can imagine how I felt – I was already mad at 2020 for taking away my business, my livelihood, giving me Covid-19 and now the other C-word – Cancer.
Dr Jose was amazing, he was so supportive and refused to give into theories and what-if’s, he urged me to stick to the facts – and until such time as he had completed his medical procedures, he did not want to speculate on my own mortality; he urged me to do the same…. It was hard not thinking about the negative, but I did my best to stay positive.
As luck word have it, Dr Jose was not able to do the nuclear gamma probe on the lymph node because, just my luck, the lymph node that this melanoma was draining into was located just above my heart in the chest cavity, and could not be reached with outperforming a huge open-chest surgical procedure, as you can imaging Dr Jose, and a number of other colleagues he consulted while I was in the operating theatre, advised against this due to the inherent risks of operating so close to my heart and arteries, not to mention the fact that he would need to saw through the chest bone to get to the lymph node – so he closed me up and decided to rather send me for a PET scan, I had to wait a further 3 weeks before I could go for the PET scan in order to give time for the wound from the wide-area excision to heal… another anxious 3 weeks awaited me, waiting to hear if the melanoma had metastasised!
Three weeks later I went for the PET scan, 24 hours later I was sitting in Dr Mayet’s office, the Oncologist at Sandton Oncology that Dr Jose had recommended I see, waiting for the results of the PET scan to revel to me, was I going to give or was I going to die, and how much longer did I have before that happened?
As Dr Mayet started talking to me and going through the radiologists report, I was sweating, anxious, I almost did not hear him say that there was no further cancer detected in my body… it took a few seconds for this to register in my brain, my mind was – “what did he just say?” – Is this true? I asked him to go back and say that again, he said with a smile on his face, I did not have any cancer anywhere else in my body and that I was very lucky that by the skin of my teeth, literally, we had removed the melanoma just in time before it penetrated through the 4th layer of the Breslow measurement of melanoma stages… which was what all the concern was about, as if this had occurred, then the chances of it having metastasised to other regions and organs through the lymph node would have been fatal. I was extremely fortunate that this was not the case, and we had just caught this horrible disease in time, once again, I had survived one of the BIG ‘C’s” of 2020… felt like a cat with 9 lives.
“I cried… I was once again grateful to the absolutely brilliant medical fraternity that we have in South Africa, the doctors, surgeons, specialists and MOST IMPORTANTLY the nursing and front line staff; I can honestly say they saved my life in 2020, not once but twice.”
Sitting again in Dr Jose’s practice rooms to tell him the good news, and to have the stitches removed from the incision he had made to remove the original melanoma, I cried again, I was grateful to him and Dr Khan, especially, as she had saved my life twice in one year. The irony of it all, as Dr Jose and I almost simultaneously said, was that Covid-19 had actually saved my life, thinking back about it, it is true because had I not caught the virus, I would not have been admitted to hospital, I would not have met Dr Kahn, who noticed and questioned the lesion on my skin, I would have just left it, and like Dr Mayet, my oncologist said, if you were sitting in front of me this time a year later (i.e. November 2021) – he would be telling me a very different story. He would be telling me how much time I had left before I left this earth It is the biggest irony of my 2020 – Covid-19 saved my life…. I dodged a bullet thanks to Covid-19!
I ended 2020, Covid-19 free – although I am still feeling the terrible after-effects of this dreadful virus, extreme fatigue, and fog brain, in the past I had a memory of an elephant, but now I can’t even remember what I had for breakfast, let alone anything further away, and I have to nap every afternoon otherwise I just don’t make it through the day, so take it from me, even recovering from Covid-19, almost 6 months later, I still feel the effects of it, it is horrid!
And also ended 2020 Cancer free – I am a survivor of Covid-19 and Cancer.
“However, sadly my business is still in ICU on a ventilator, however just like the medial team did for me, I have decided to nurse it back to health.”
It will be a long road, as we don’t know when we will be able to host exhibitions and in-person events, or on any scale or of noteworthy proportions again, but until then, I am trying to keep positive and start each day as the sun does, by rising and at night go to sleep as the sun sets, knowing that there will be a tomorrow and that life as I know has changed but that there is always tomorrow – so keep on going… I feel like the energiser bunny – don’t give up.
And of course to you Brent, as I would not be in this positive space if it was not for what you are doing. Sharing the good stories, the positive in a world that is too heavily focused on the negative. Thank you, thank you from the bottom of my heart!
I saw this on social media yesterday, and it struck a chord with me – “if the grass looks greener on the other side – Stop Staring. Stop Comparing. Stop complaining. Start watering the grass you are standing on”. – Angel Chernoff.
It perfectly sums up what I went through and where I am now. Busy watering the grass I am standing on!
Thank you, Brent, you are a legend!
An avid Good Things Follower.
Ps. if you feel this story is worth sharing, to help inspire others, please feel free to do so… if you do choose to share this story, please may I kindly as you to do so anonymously.