Health is subjective and its complexity cannot be captured in a single definition. In this essay, I aim to explore how the death of my uncle has influenced my understanding of the meaning of health.
My uncle was a chef of one of a chain of takeaway restaurants, located in Sydney’s city centre. He and his wife worked long hours enduring the stressful, hot and crowded environment on a daily basis to provide a comfortable living for themselves and their two children. One day, he felt sudden pain while excreting stool. It contained blood, which gave it a dark and almost black appearance. At first he did not believe these symptoms would lead to anything too serious and felt fairly certain it would pass after a few days. However, that was not the case. We observed that my uncle suffered an increase in pain as time went by which affected his ability to cope with his work environment. The pain soon worsened to the stage where we were able to associate it with his short temperament, which was unlike his old self. It got to the extent at which he could no longer hide the pain he suffering despite his efforts. We decided it was necessary and encouraged him to consult his general practitioner. A blood test and computerised tomography scan were taken and the results revealed that my uncle was suffering from an advanced stage of lung cancer that had already begun metastasizing into the bones.
We were all emotionally and psychologically affected by this news. My uncle had never been a smoker, which had led to my initial response of shock. Due to the late diagnosis, there weren’t many treatments available. I felt helpless, not being able to relieve the suffering of the person who had cared for me from when I was an infant. He remained an outpatient and was not hospitalised until the two weeks before he passed away when he was then admitted to palliative care. The illness and death, 12 months after his diagnosis, had a