edited: Tuesday, November 04, 2003
By Rebekah Rosie Lang
Posted: Sunday, February 24, 2002
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My experience with Dr. Bernie S. Siegel, or Dad as I like to call him. We talk about pain and the joys that one can find.
Pain is like opening a treasure chest, you never know the riches you will find.” That is a direct quote from Bernie S. Siegel, M.D. or “DAD” as I like to call him. For example, almost 13 years ago, I opened the treasure chest on my journey of just turning 18 years old. When it was almost my 19th birthday, I discovered I had an inoperable brainstem tumor resulting in hydrocephalus requiring immediate surgery for a vp shunt placement. All these technical terms were explained to me in those coming years. I have had 14 shunt revisions and 1 crainiotomy. I have found PAIN and misery and pure HELL in my young adult life but I have also found some GOOD things in life too! I met Dr. Bernie S. Siegel and got to know him a little better than most people, he has become a good friend and surrogate “dad” to me. I wrote EcaP,- a group that Bernie started for Cancer patients, I get support from the cancer support group at HEB Hospital near where I live, Bernie taught me his secrets of the colors and I often draw pictures of events to see how it will make me feel about something. I have drawn pictures for Bernie before and he uses them in his lectures across the states to doctors, nurses and fellow man or woman who are ill or just need some comfort about life and living.
I am a poet and a writer and Bernie has many of my poems which he uses, I believe, with some people in workshops or lectures. One fitting poem about pain that I wrote is…
If my days were untroubled and heart always light,
would I seek that fair land where there is no night?
If I never grew weary with the weight of my load,
would I search for Gods peace at the end of the road?
If I never knew sickness and never felt pain,
Would I search for a hand to help and sustain?
If I walked without sorrow and lived without loss,
would my soul seek solace at the foot of the cross?
If all I desired was mine in a day,
would I kneel before God and earnestly pray?
If God sent no winter to freeze me with fear,
would I yearn for the warmth of Spring every year?
I ask myself these and the answer is plain,
if my life were pleasure and I never knew pain
I’d seek God less often and need Him much less,
for God is sought more often in times of distress.
And no one knows God or sees Him as plain
as those who have met him on the “Pathway of Pain”.
Bernie loves me and teaches me everyday and I have in turn loved him and have been teaching him everyday! HE HAS GIVEN ME UNCONDITIONAL LOVE WHEN NO ONE ELSE WOULD! I never realized that until February 18th, 2002. He has loved me unconditionally everyday since he met me back in August 1992. He became my “Chosen Dad” and I became his “Chosen Daughter”. He has started loving me ever since the day I called him at his home and left a message on his recorder, asking him to give me Dr. KEVORKIAN’S PHONE NUMBER! (This was before Dr. Jack Kevorkian, the suicide doctor, was put in jail.) You see, I wrote to Ecap , the Cancer group that Bernie started. It means Exceptional Cancer Patients. They forwarded my letter to Bernie and he wrote back to me in Missouri. At that current time, I had just graduated from college, was living in a run-down dirty apartment house next to the state prison in the capitol of Missouri, Jefferson City. I was getting sicker every day. I had been putting up with my inoperable brainstem tumor for 4 years then. Nothing was helping. I wanted Dr. Jack Kevorkian’s phone number to end it all. TO THIS DAY, 2/22/02, Bernie still has that recorded message of me calling him and asking him for Dr. Kevorkian’s phone number. HOWEVER, I finally called him and told him it was ok with me for him to get rid of it and to tape over it or even burn it. I am leaving that behind me now. That is the “old ways”. I think he uses the message as a teaching tool to young and old doctors he lectures to however.
Bernie’s message is one of instruction but it also comes attached with LOVE. Whether you are a doctor, nurse, student, person with an illness or just a normal healthy person who needs a little guiding comfort strategies on how to deal with life, then attend one of Bernie’s lectures or read one of his books and you will be on your way!!!
February 24, 2002