“Healing is impossible in loneliness; it is the opposite of loneliness. Conviviality is healing. To be healed we must come with all the other creatures to the feast of Creation.”
― Wendell Berry, The Art of the Commonplace: The Agrarian Essays
Sometimes the internet, the interstates, airplanes and the speed of life leave us to feel disconnected.
Yet, my sister tells me they now have a milkman–delivering fresh cow’s milk to their doorstep.
In our urban backyard, kale, chard, lettuce and beets continue to feed us, even in March. Maybe this summer we’ll pluck blueberries off the vine. The neighbors grow their own vegetable garden–and invite us to pick figs from their trees.
The internet, fast trains, and certainly being able to type these thoughts on a computer rather than using the typewriter I took to college make a lot of life work way better.
And, when a child is born premature or with complications– like Amy’s son, Oriana’s granddaughter–or a little boy is diagnosed with cancer when he is only four years old–chances of survival are amazingly improved from back when any of us reading these words first took a breath.
In 2012, Edan Owen was diagnosed with stage 4 Non-Hodgkin’s T-Cell Lymphoblastic Lymphoma.
This week’s blog post is dedicated to him and to appreciating today’s world, its advances in medicine and how the speed of life provides its reward.
As the globe warms and we humans flub up over and over again, stumbling into war as if a playtime activity, and forgoing dinner together for a million other things, we also reach out and touch lives in ways that support life and healing like never before.
Over the past six months, I’ve learned of two men with Leukemia. Yet today both of these men have undergone bone marrow transplants. Not that it’s been an easy road, not that their lives will ever be the same as pre-diagnosis, but they are alive. Their families and friends still have these men in the world. For each, someone donated bone marrow. Some anonymous stranger offered these men the possibility of more life in this world.
The first successful unrelated donor transplant for a patient with leukemia took place in 1979 at the Hutchinson Center in Seattle. Before that, such transplants only took place between identical twins, then within families.
Yesterday I read the story of Edan, now six–also in need of a bone marrow transplant.
My sister sent the story. The child was first diagnosed with cancer when only four years old. He underwent surgery, chemo and went into remission. Edan was announced cancer-free until symptoms returned this year.
Now he and his family have temporarily relocated from Bellingham to Seattle. His older brother, Jude, attends a special school for the siblings of kids undergoing treatment for life-threatening diseases.
When I was a kid, I was also in the hospital, my family stressed and burdened by a little kid’s pain and all it took to keep her alive–surgeries, radiation, lots and lots of attention.
Even back then enough technology existed to save me. Eventually it would be the invention of the CAT Scan that would literally give me another chance. From the doctors in Tacoma saying, “There’s nothing more we can do,” to the doctors in San Francisco reading the results of this new invention that saw the little girl’s brain-intrusion not more cancer growing, just a cyst that could be removed.
If any of us had been diagnosed with Edan’s stage 4 Non-Hodgkin’s T-Cell Lymphoblastic Lymphoma when we were four years old, there would have been little or no hope.
And, in pre-internet days, I wouldn’t be writing this story because I wouldn’t know who Edan Owen is. He and his family would not have a following of people sending love and prayer and donating financial support. The family would, most likely, feel much more alone.
Today we’ve learned how better to support families with seriously ill children. We’ve learned more about the importance of tending to the siblings with special care and offering relief to the parents.
In a similar way that book groups or Meet-Ups bring like-minded people together via the internet, we can learn about and respond to people facing serious illness. This tech-age helps us connect with people we might not know and then share in the care. This coming together of strangers make a difference and helps people in tough times to feel less alone.
Websites such as LotsaHelpingHands and GiveForward aid families and caregivers to arrange for support–everything from making meals, visiting a patient or driving him to the doctor or financial need.
I’ve never met Edan and likely won’t. This child is the son of my sister’s friend’s ex-husband. Wow! The way we meet doesn’t matter. I’m writing about Edan in hopes that maybe some of you will visit him at the website Giving Forward–where you can send hugs, prayer or offer a donation to him and his family.
I’m inspired by the ways I see people reaching out. Thanks again for sharing your stories.
History of Bone Marrow Transfusions — Transplantation
Lotsa Helping Hands — To create a community