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Hope: The Most Caring Gift

By Rev. A. Stephen Pieters

(Page 2 of 2)

She said I should think of myself as her partner in medicine; we are co-creators of my wellness. Even though there were no treatments, she taught me I could do a lot to prepare my body for healing, so when a treatment did become available, it would stand a better chance of working.  So I set about doing everything I could to create the conditions for healing in my body. My wellness plan included good nutrition, vitamins, laughter, meditation visualization, prayer, regular exercise, educating myself and doing volunteer work at a local AIDS organization. Making survival a full time job didn't give me time to sit around depressed. 
With the help of caring friends and health care providers, I soon discovered that I could still dance! I could still laugh! I could still enjoy my friends and my life. I could still be joyfully alive, even with AIDS and cancer. 
I have found there is hope even in facing death. When I was close to death from AIDS complications, I was amazed at how my hope and faith gave me courage. Sometimes hope in facing death comes from what a person believes about life after death; sometimes it is simply the expectation of release from pain and suffering. 
Shortly after my "terminal" diagnosis, my therapist taught me the Native American saying, "The quality of life is not measured by the length of life, but by the fullness with which we enter each present moment." This, too, gave me hope: I learned to live in the moment, and to use each moment to improve my chances of survival.
Living and dying with HIV/AIDS can be an experience of loneliness and despair. I know that experience can be transformed into a life of hope, through empowering those of us living with HlV/AlDS to be actively alive until we die. This creates hope, even when life seems hopeless. What greater gift can a caregiver offer?


Rev. A. Stephen Pieters, B.S., M.Div., D.Min. (Hon.) is the Director of AIDS Ministry of Metropolitan Community Churches worldwide and has a column in "The Body" on the internet at and feel despair.


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