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Poignant story of Barclays junior puts virus lockdown into perspective

If you're stuck at home regretting the cancellation of your Easter ski break and wondering when you'll next get to eat at a restaurant, one Barclays assistant vice president is living through an experience that will help put your own angst into perspective.

Elliot Dallen is/was an assistant vice president at Barclays, working on planning and stress testing business performance and analytics in the corporate bank. Having graduated from the UK's university of Exeter in 2011, Dallen is in his late 20s. He is also dying - and not of COVID-19.

Writing in the Guardian yesterday, Dallen said he's unlikely to live to see the end of the lockdown. Two summers ago, one year after joining Barclays, he was diagnosed with adrenocortical carcinoma, a rare and aggressive cancer of the adrenal gland for which there is very little treatment. Although he was having chemo to delay the inevitable, the virus has put an end to remediation. "My oncologist has said I cannot have further treatment," says Dallen. "His reasoning is that it would leave me vulnerable to becoming ill at a time when there are not enough resources to help, and also because the nurses normally available are busy helping others."

As a result, and having been informed nine months ago that he had less than a year to live, Dallen says he's now living on borrowed time - and that his expectations for his final months have been dashed by the coronavirus and its lockdowns.

"Whenever I had thought about the last few weeks of life before, I always pictured them being surrounded by friends and family," says Dallen. "I’d eat at my favourite restaurants, go to south London parks where I’ve shared kisses and lazy days. I’d get to watch the bands that soundtracked my life in London’s festivals, and frequent the bars and beer gardens that, for better or worse, have defined my adulthood...."

Because of the virus, none of this can happen. Dallen is still upbeat: he plans to spend time with friends and family even if it's not face to face; nothing will be "left unsaid," and he's still grateful for the views outside his window and the possibilities within his four walls. But the quarantine is materially different for him than for everyone else.  "There is no light to give me hope," says Dallen. "The tunnel is all that there is, and I’m having to find my way in the dark...."

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Photo by Sunyu on Unsplash

AUTHORSarah Butcher Global Editor
  • Ch
    5 April 2020

    I hope and pray that Dallen manages to find faith in Jesus Christ. God loves us, and he created us to live eternally with Him in heaven. This life on earth, with all its difficulties and tragedies, is but a short life. There is eternity after.

    "There is no light to give me hope. The tunnel is all that there is, and I’m having to find my way in the dark". If this life is all there is, then dying of a terminal disease, and not having the consolation of friends/ family/ restaurants/ travel, is an unmitigated disaster. But if you have faith in an afterlife, it is more bearable. I'm not saying it's easy. Even with my relatively strong faith, I get frustrated when my plans in life do not pan out. And I can't imagine what it must be like dying alone, in your late 20s, at a time of national lockdown, unable to use what little time is left. Without faith, it's meaningless suffering, and a tunnel without end. Please join me in praying for Dallen.

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