If there’s one thing that I’ve learnt within my short time on this planet, it’s that we should never lose our sense of hope. In the midst of the darkest times, lowest of lows and when it all seems excruciatingly impossible, at the end of it all hope is what guides us through.
I have experienced, and witnessed several moments when losing hope would have in all honesty been the easiest option, but hope remained.
Walk the corridors of a Hospital and you’ll notice that amidst the sterile scent of disinfectant and short bursts of grief and despair, hope is what shines through the greatest – overwhelmingly so.
I’m going to tell you a story of a boy I once knew.
His name was Mateus, his little three-year-old spirit was overflowing with utter happiness. He was a chatty, determined, caring, light-hearted, fun, ps4 loving, transformer adoring and beautifully kind little boy. These are the qualities that I so clearly remember when thinking of Mateus. These traits are what define him, not the fact that he lived his short life with E.B (Epidermolysis Bullosa). In short, the condition causes the skin to blister and tear at the slightest touch, and in some conditions, unfortunately being Mateus’s, organs are also affected and can cause internal blistering. His hands, and possibly the entirety of his body, was covered in order to prevent any kind of damage of blistering to his skin. His Mother was unable to hug his delicate little body due to the likelihood of hurting him. He played games, like hide and seek whilst still attached to his IV tube, and comically hid behind it, hoping not to be found. Whilst in Hospital, his parents had managed to get him his own bedroom at home, as they were all sleeping in one bedroom beforehand, so Mateus was so excited at the prospect of having his own little space, and was desperate to get back home to spend a night in his bed! His parents love for him was – so obvious to those around – unconditional, in the most simple yet powerful form. And his Mother, even at the news from the Doctors that Mateus was coming to the end of his life and all they could do from now was to keep him as comfortable as possible, she never, ever lost hope. I don’t know the entirety of his story, but I do know that memories of his relentless spirit and the fighter that he was, inspire me daily. But above all, he never, in the moments that I, and the rest of my family had the absolute pleasure of spending with him, lost his sense of hope.
Mateus lost his battle – but not before seeing his new bedroom, he finally got his wish granted – but boy, did he fight!
Here’s another story, I guess this one is even closer to home, but it has a happier ending.
As some of you may know by now, my younger brother spent some time in Great Ormond Street back in 2012. He suffers from a rare disease called Juvenile Dermatomyositis (JDM), which in essence, means that his immune system attacks his tissue and muscles within his body, the skin can also be affected however side effects of this aren’t quite as severe. Ethan was initially admitted to our local Hospital of North Staffs but was soon transferred to Great Ormond Street after rapidly getting worse. He was tested for a multitude of illnesses, after complaining of symptoms such as severely achy legs, and chronic fatigue – to the extent where he could no longer climb the stairs – they tested him for illnesses such as leukaemia and arthritis, before unofficially diagnosing him with JDM. As luck would have it, a consultant who had recently worked on the ward that Ethan would later get transferred to, had returned from her placement at GOS and immediately noticed the symptoms and suspected that he may be suffered from JDM – this was later to be confirmed after more tests and a biopsy at GOS.
It was a long, bumpy road before he started to pick up again. He lost his cheeky, fun-loving character that shone so brightly through before a Hospital ward became his home and his body became a pin bed. But again, he never lost hope, neither did my incredibly strong and relentlessly optimistic Mum. Drugs were tried and failed, he was fed via an NG tube because he could no longer swallow his own saliva never mind solid foods, he got pumped full of high doses of steroids which caused their own realm of side effects, he could no longer walk, struggled to talk, and didn’t have the strength to open his own Birthday cards on his 4th Birthday. He got worse before he got better, that’s for certain. But he got better, and isn’t that really all that matters? His and my Mum’s time in Hospital was hard, there were few answers, little money and they were isolated from family and friends back home – I’m sure my Mum could tell you her fair share of stories – but without the helping hand of hope, it would have been far harder.
I know far too many people who have faced utter darkness in the form of mental illness, other’s who have stayed so remarkably strong regardless of what’s happened within their personal lives, people who have lost loved ones far too soon, people who have become patients of hospitals and other’s who’ve watched loved ones become patients of hospital beds and other’s who continue to live their lives regardless of the crippling effects of anxiety.
These are just two examples, perhaps more extreme than the majority of the situations the majority of us face, but the philosophy remains the same … Keep an optimistic attitude and let hope carry you through. I encourage you to think about your own life and people within it. There are heroes to be met daily, people fighting their own battles are trying to stand in the midst of a storm, yet they still do – they stand and they fight and they don’t give up.
I honestly think that within these stories lie an endless amount of necessary messages. You should never give up; you should unapologetically do what you love; Be kind to others because you have no idea what they’re going through; Let go of grudges and love more and I personally think one of the most important messages that I try so hard to live by is that you should live each day as if it’s your last because life is far too fragile.
And never, ever lose your sense of hope.
“For without hope, we are nothing.”