I did not know who Dr. Sarah Hallberg was till yesterday morning. By the end of the day, however, I had known her well. At least that is what I felt after seeing her multiple videos and reading about her outstanding work in the field of reversing type 2 diabetes without medications or surgery.
And the reason I got to know about Sarah and her work just yesterday was because I read news of her passing away a day before yesterday, after suffering from advanced lung cancer, at the age of fifty.
Sarah was revered in the medical community, especially those working in the field of diabetes, for the path-breaking work she did over the past few years. As much as I got to read and know about her, all I could gather was the amount of good karma she had accumulated over the years for helping diabetics sort out their lives through just food and lifestyle. The best part about Sarah’s story is that her work did not stop even after she got to know she was down with a terminal disease. She was selfless to the core.
One of her interviews that I saw that revealed a lot about her life was the one she did in May 2021 with Dr. Peter Attia. She talked about how she was amongst the fittest of most people around her, always ate well, kept her weight normal, exercised daily, competed in marathons and triathlons, never smoked, and never drank to excess. She said she did “everything right” to stay as healthy as possible, and still caught up with a deadly version of cancer in her mid-forties.
That held out a great lesson to me that I have learned several times earlier in my life, but one that still needs to go down deeper in my consciousness.
Life, we often come to think, seems unfair against us. We lose the smallest of our possessions, and we start cursing life to have handed us a raw deal. We keep ourselves burdened with the baggage of regret, resentment, unforgiveness, even hate, just because we keep this narrative on in our minds that someone or something has wronged us and that we did not deserve a bit of it. This feeling is especially worse when we know we did everything right, like Sarah, and still find ourselves on the wrong side of the deal that life offers us. And then we go through that cycle of grieving – first denial, then anger, then bargaining, then depression, and finally acceptance.
Each and every time, this is what we go through. And in this busyness of passing though one cycle of grief to the next, life passes. Our kids grow up and move on in their lives, sometimes our relationships suffer, we anyways get weaker in health, and life suddenly seems short.
Here, I agree with the Roman philosopher Seneca who would reprimand anyone who believes that life is short by saying that it is not short but long if we know how to use it. As he wrote in his seminal book, On the Shortness of Life –
“It is not that we have a short time to live, but that we waste a lot of it. Life is long enough, and a sufficiently generous amount has been given to us for the highest achievements if it were all well invested. But when it is wasted in heedless luxury and spent on no good activity, we are forced at last by death’s final constraint to realize that it has passed away before we knew it was passing. So it is: we are not given a short life but we make it short, and we are not ill-supplied but wasteful of it… Life is long if you know how to use it.”
The lesson I re-learned from Sarah was about the way she conducted herself not just before she knew she suffered from cancer, but especially after it. She confessed in her interview with Dr. Attia that she also went through here cycle of grief, which ended in acceptance of the reality of her short time on this planet, but the way she created meaning in her life and in the lives of her patients was remarkable.
Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.”
Now, when I juxtapose what Sarah did and how she conducted herself during her cancer journey with the life I am living, which I should not do as our journeys are different, I find some meaninglessness in a lot of external things I am chasing, often sub-consciously – happiness, money, return on investment, readers, customers, success, fame.
This is the exact same feeling I had when I saw my father passing away of cancer in 2019, and then a couple of ex-colleagues during the second wave of Covid in 2021. And when I look back at the kind of work I have been doing over the last 2-3 years, whether it is The One Percent Show, or The Sketchbook of Wisdom, I realize I have sort of withdrawn myself from the worries and noise of stocks and the market towards things that I believe are more meaningful in my life.
As such, most of my reading and writing over these last 2-3 years have not been about how to be a good investor or an analyst (enough of that), but about how to live a good life. I may have disappointed you because you may have started reading my work for understanding how to invest well, and now I am sending you stuff around how to live well, and I am sorry for the disappointment. But I have always considered my work as an extension of my inner being, and so have walked on this journey always with an inner scorecard – though with considerable support and cheering up from you – and that is what I aim to keep doing as my life moves on.
Sarah reignited a feeling deep within me, and I must thank her for that. In the short time I have known her, she left me enough motivation for the kind of work I want to do, and the kind of person I want to be.
And I must also thank you, dear reader, for your constant support and for bearing me with my rambling even if that is not what you came here for.
I hope I have been useful to you in a small way, because that is what I will keep trying to be always.
Also Read and Watch –
- A personal journey through cancer with Dr. Sarah Hallberg – Dr. Peter Attia
- I’m a doctor with Stage 4 cancer during a pandemic – Sarah Hallberg
- Reversing Type 2 diabetes starts with ignoring the guidelines – Sarah Hallberg
That’s about it from me for today.
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