There is little doubt that the enormous popularity of American writer John Green’s bestseller The Fault in our Stars, a book about two teens who meet at a youth cancer support group, has led increased attention to the importance of end-of-life support. What is not as well-known is the fact that Green based his book on the revelations of one amazing teenager, Esther Earl. Although she died in 2010, Esther’s journey continues to inspire.
According to The Daily Mail, Esther’s parents recently released their own complementary book, one which compiles her final letters. In it, readers are given a glimpse into the mind of someone dying of cancer. Someone acutely conscious of her own mortality.
Among her recorded thoughts are the following:
- “[I]f I had the choice of going back in time, somehow, and preventing the cancer, I wouldn’t, since it would change so many things.”
- “I’m so scared. God means so much to me, but I wish He could heal me.”
- “I don’t ever cry during the day. If I have to, I hold it in and plan to cry that night.”
- ‘I do think about dying a lot but I don’t know. I feel like I’ve finally like, grasped that I’d no longer live on Earth. But I’m working on the actual progress of death and the people missing me part, you know?’ (The Daily Mail)
From such insights, it is clear that Esther Earl found herself in need of specialized care and understanding during the time of her death and that she thrived on the support of those around her. No matter the patient’s age, these are constants when it comes to end-of-life care.
Because caring for those facing death is such challenging work, those called upon to do so require compassion, fortitude, and specialized expertise.