What living with the Big C has taught me about Web3 (Part 3)

What living with the Big C has taught me about Web3 (Part 3)

I have no regrets. Just as in Web3, sometimes a calculated risk doesn’t pay off. We all knew going in that success isn’t guaranteed even if we do all the right things. My doctor, wife and I could not have predicted that my individual reaction would be so drastic and that I would suffer from the more severe yet unlikely and even rare side effects. 

If it had worked, I would have won big. But taking risks means also being willing to accept and move on from failure, and continue living with the consequences. 

During my last confinement, when I was battling my ongoing immune system attack, my wife finally convinced me that we should hire a caregiver to help me. Again, another bitter pill to swallow for someone as proud and independent as I was, but that was me before cancer.

Many of the simplest things I took for granted are now something that require some form of assistance. I now know firsthand what it feels like to be categorised under Persons With Disabilities, who in Malaysia are referred to as Orang Kurang Upaya (OKU).

Thankfully, Malaysia strives to be OKU-friendly, from the government implementing the laws protecting us; to providing tax relief; to disability friendly malls, hotels, restaurants, trains, and so on. Certainly, Malaysia is far more disability friendly, I’m sad to say, than my native Philippines.

That’s just how life is. Sometimes, bad things happen to us through no fault of our own. Sometimes, we fail, no matter how passionate and hardworking we are. Living with cancer means accepting that some things are just beyond my control, but I can choose how to react to them. It means being more mindful of my time and energy.

Do I really want to waste my precious time moping and asking why I had to get MEITL? Self-pity won’t make this cancer go away. I choose to focus on becoming a better husband and father. It makes each new moment spent with my wife and daughter more meaningful. Each new memory we create together is more precious.

Also Read: What living with the Big C has taught me about Web3 (Part 1)

Whenever things go wrong, and you feel discouraged, whether you’re in Web3, a startup founder, an entrepreneur, or, in fact, in any industry, remember the people who truly matter to you. Remind yourself that you are working hard and making sacrifices because you have people you care about and people who care about you. That others are depending on you.

This will keep you grounded in the midst of uncertainty. 

Be kind and keep your sense of humour

I’ve also found that my quirky sense of humour is helping me cope with cancer. When I was starting out my chemo treatment, I bought a T-shirt with the funny statement: “Secretly Hoping Chemo Gives Me Superpowers.” After all, I’m literally a mutant now. Plus I’m a comic book geek and the X-Men have been my favourite superhero team since childhood.

While I was disheartened at first at having to be pushed around in a wheelchair, I’ve learned to have fun by pretending I’m Professor X using his psychic powers whenever we go through an elevator or an automatic door. Silly, I know, but it keeps me entertained.

My wife and I also keep joking that since I’ve received so many blood transfusions here, including packed red cells, platelet concentrate, and plasma, I already have a lot of Malaysian blood and should be considered an honorary Malaysian.

We know, of course, that technically, the donated blood cells circulating in me will die and be replaced by the blood cells my own body is producing. Depending on the age of the blood donated, this could be a matter of days or over a period of weeks. At most, three months. Also, non-citizens who meet the requirements can donate blood. But it’s our sense of humour that has always allowed my wife, daughter and me to cope with any situation.

Getting MEITL still feels unreal. Since this cancer journey began, I’ve felt like I’m in an episode of the American medical drama series “House”. Thankfully, unlike Dr Gregory House, none of my doctors is misanthropic and addicted to pain medication. Also, I’m the only patient in each episode.

MEITL, however, has no standard medical treatment and keeps evolving by presenting different vague and nonspecific systems. This is why it’s a stubborn beast that stumps doctors and keeps them guessing.

What are the actual symptoms? What are the side effects of chemo and other drugs? What are your individual reactions to the medication used to treat the side effects? And then, of course, my doctor has to help me deal with every complication that arises from my weakened immune system.

As he said from the start, we have a clear game plan, but at the end of the day it boils down to trial and error. We can’t stick to the original plan and hypotheses if the results have shown that the methods have failed. Believe me, since July we’ve experienced so many plot twists that we could keep this going for several seasons. 

Fine by me. I don’t want this show to get cancelled. Instead, give me the best series finale in TV history when I’ve finally been cured.

These days, I appreciate Web3 culture and humour even more. The GMs, LFGs, HODLs, GIFs, memes, friendly trolling and shitposting, and battle cries (“Ribbit!” “LFGRR!” “Power to the gamers!”) might seem silly to outsiders. But they allow Web3 people to bond with their community and other Web3 people while encouraging each other to hang on even during the long, dark and cold Crypto Winter.

Also Read: What living with the Big C has taught me about Web3 (Part 2)

Strange behaviour and slang can be ways to stay sane and build tribes. We tend to forget that every subculture and movement, whether in real life or online, creates its own special language and rituals. It wasn’t too long ago, after all, when the original Web seemed hopelessly bizarre before the Internet completely changed the way we worked and played.

Look for meaning, not happiness

Lastly, when you feel that everything you have been working hard for is being taken away from you and your whole world seems to be crumbling, that’s precisely when you should learn to be kind. Kinder to yourself, and kinder to others.

The real purpose of life is not happiness. Happiness is fleeting if by this we mean joyful moments and pleasant feelings. Every day, good and bad things will happen, and our mood will change depending on what we experience.

The true purpose of life is to create meaning.

Something that makes your life worth living and keeps you centred no matter what happens along the way. It’s the meaning that you create for yourself, but, even more importantly, that motivates you to help others and create real value for people.

I’m grateful that Web3 is filled with kind people. Call me naive, but while the spotlight is often on the bad actors, who are a vocal and toxic minority, good people abound in Web3. The space itself encourages people to be kind, authentic, passionate, and collaborative.

Take the example of avid gamer and NFT philanthropist TQ (from her gaming moniker Trap Queen). She firmly believes in Web3 gaming as a platform for gamers to give back to others. Through her charity program TQ Aid, she works with her fellow gamers and partners to distribute food, toys, and other supplies to underprivileged people in the Philippines.

Or Luis Buenaventura, one of the world’s first NFT artists, launched Curio Cards, the first art show of NFTs on Ethereum, on May 9th, 2017. He also made history as the first Filipino NFT artist to have work sold at Christie’s and Sotheby’s. But instead of being content with his own success, in September 2021, Buenaventura founded Cryptopop Art Guild (CPAG, pronounced “see-pag” like “sipag”, the Filipino word for diligence). This metaversal guild is a non-profit for underprivileged Filipino artists, helping them sell their NFTs in foreign markets that were once out of reach.  

If we want more people to use technology for good, then we must accelerate the evolution of the Web and put an end to the toxic Web2 era. 

Even the inventor of the World Wide Web himself, Sir Tim Berners-Lee, who generously gave it away to the world for free and forever changed human history, has admitted during its 35th anniversary this year that the “Web is broken”. Though he believes it can still be fixed.

We who are passionate about Web3 believe that it is precisely what will fix the broken Web.

Through decentralisation, we can fulfil the Web’s original promise of giving power to individuals instead of institutions.

Web3 can correct the long-existing power imbalance in society that the internet simply perpetuated. It can finally bridge the digital gap by offering equal access to the benefits of technology to those who remain marginalised.

My dream is for all of us to build a world in which Web3 has forever changed for the better. 

I won’t let a small thing like cancer stop me from helping make this come true.

The last of three parts.

Editor’s note: e27 aims to foster thought leadership by publishing views from the community. Share your opinion by submitting an article, video, podcast, or infographic.

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Image courtesy of the author.

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