Recently I was encouraged to be the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society's Team in Training honor teammate. A designated spokesperson to the team to hopefully provide some inspiration. It was an endeavor that was somewhat out of my comfort zone, but circumstances compelled me to participate in as much as I'm capable to reciprocate my appreciation for the support I've received. I was asked to speak at their commencement. I would like to share those thoughts with your indulgence.....
My experience has been at times abstract and strangely experimental in its execution. A relatively new science administered and paid for in human life, money, and support. Not so long ago, statistically, I would not have survived bone marrow transplant treatment. It has been through the efforts of so many, like yourselves, that endeavor to sacrifice and raise money and just as importantly awareness, the impact of which, has been incalculable to me and so many others like me. Among the many revelations of my experience is reciprocity and participation. I'm grateful and indebted for the overwhelming support I've received from so many, including many people in this room, who have so many times refilled my glass when I started to see it less than half full....
Upon reflection of my comments, I don't feel I conveyed my conviction; to bring awareness and provide support wherever I can in reciprocation for the care and uncompromising effort given me by my family and friends, but just as importantly all the health care professionals whose dedication and compassion never considered anything less than success. Eight months later I celebrate remission and rejoice in the increasing success of my bone marrow transplant. It will be some time before I can claim victory, or some acceptable version of that, perhaps next year or the year after that. I can say with certainty that for now detente has been achieved.
Tomorrow, opportunity is mine and I have endeavored to embrace what is availed to me each day. Inspiring words indeed, but a concept more easily said than done. Intrinsically, illness hasn't changed me that much, chemo has disrupted how my mind and body operates to some extent, to be sure. But, I haven't metamorphosed into someone or something else, at least for now. The revelations of recent months have given me some perspective that has caused me to reexamine the choices I have made. Many of which were predisposed by cynicism, obstinacy, or expediency.
That evaluation had caused me some consternation when back in March I serendipitously discovered this small tome in the book store. A little gem* that has since had some impact on me. Without too much preamble, the author describes the concept of choice, and how so many of us have relinquished the freedom of choice through default. ...."being conscious and aware enough to choose what you pay attention to and to choose how you construct meaning from experience... ones' default is the belief that I'm the center of the world and that my immediate needs and feelings are what should determine the worlds priorities".
In default one gives up freedom, imprisoned in individual compartments of thought and ideology, rather than the pursuit of what is truly important...." that which involves attention and awareness and discipline and effort and being able truly to care about other people and to sacrifice for them over and over in myriad ways every day". For those of you who sacrifice and participate for that which is truly important in myriad ways everyday I hope will be reciprocated with attention deigned with generosity and charitable hearts.
Thank you T.
*"THIS IS WATER" by David Foster Wallace.