Inspire2Live Update: ‘Life is about sorrow and joy!’

My name is Tielo Jongmans. I am a Patient Advocate, involved in governing Inspire2Live, and in implementing a number of projects. Today (July 17) has given me three of the greatest presents of my life.

One was holding in my arms my first grandchild, Sophie, a perfect birth, of a perfect child to a perfect mother (my daughter Nona) and father (her friend Joris, whom I love). She has the tiniest longest fingers you have ever seen, perfect for piano or guitar. I was proud to send pictures to some of my fellow PA’s and was happy to see their congratulations and cheerful best wishes.

It was just an hour later that we received the news that one of our Patient Advocates, Jason, who was affected with terminal penis cancer, had been struck by a catastrophic hemorrhage and that euthanasia would occur at 20:30 in the evening, according to his own and his family’s wishes. I felt Jason was a friend, we had worked together on I2L projects and I had interviewed him about his experiences just two weeks ago. Just before his hemorrhage I had sent him a message to ask if it was OK to publish the interview early, ie immediately instead of waiting six months for the book it was supposed to go in. This is his answer, timed at six o’clock in the evening:

“Fine, go ahead. Haha, you’ve asked just in time, because tomorrow I won’t be here anymore. Tonight at about 20:30 euthanasia awaits me! Good luck with developing your book.”

Mind you: he took the time to answer his email just two and a half hours before he knew he would die!! Later that evening he had his final meal together with his sister, of a dish called “Nasi” which rhymes in Dutch with Euthanasia.

As heroes go, you don’t find many examples like this. His attention to taking his wife and children along in preparing for this (by the way this was supported by his strong, supremely committed and competent wife, Agnes!) and to prepare his children, should remain an example to us all!

So there you have two of the three presents, one is my granddaughter Sophie and the other one is witnessing a hero, Jason, no less than any ancient heroes, like Achilles or Hector.

And the final one is experiencing what Patient Advocates can mean to support each other, both in sharing exuberant joy and in sharing deep sorrow. I am thankful and proud to be part of this!

Tielo Jongmans
CEO and Patient Advocate Inspire2Live