Dirk De Wachter is the author of several bestselling books on the art of living and suffering. He comes from Boom, lives in Antwerp and also has his private practice there and is a professor at KU Leuven.
“The cancer diagnosis was totally unexpected,” he says. “I had no complaints. It was a blow, even for a psychiatrist, who is scheduled to keep his emotions in check.”
Due to the diagnosis, he has to stop working for the first time in 35 years. “I grew years older in the two months. The operation has helped me a lot. I couldn’t take three more steps. I think of myself as a man of ninety. It has improved a lot: now I feel about seventy. So I am fully engaged in a rejuvenation cure. Hopefully I can feel 61 again soon, my real age.”
He also speaks about confronting death: “I didn’t look her in the eye. It’s more indirect. I feel her sneaking behind me. She breathes coldly on my neck at times and straightens my hair. Sometimes I am overwhelmed by a dantesk sense of the limbo of hell. When I’m in the waiting room of the oncology department, or when they put on an IV.”
He says he does not believe in a life after death, but because of the situation he is more concerned with the finiteness of life: “The theme of life and death is more sensitive”.
And: “A few days ago I called my brother about chemotherapy, and I was still struggling with my words. Of course, the gemstone also makes your vase.”