So much of how I view the world has to do with how to be a good person; what does that even mean? A few things come to mind. Having a set of values and priorities that are in line with helping the world. Living and taking actions that are in harmony with those values. Being kind to those dearest to us and also to those whose paths we cross only here and there. Sometimes it’s the small things we do. Sometimes it’s the Big Gestures of Kindness.
I think about this as I contemplate receiving a bone marrow transplant sometime in the coming months. After the first round of chemo, there is inspiring evidence that therapy is effective. It will be some weeks before we know results from this second round which informs our next steps. I may have a third round of treatment because research shows zeroleukemia cells in the marrow is better than any leukemia cells in the marrow with regard to long-term successful transplants. Enduring hardship now with further confidence going ahead is probably the right road. While I hit some bumps along the way, but not that many and none of the really gnarly ones. In other words, I tolerate treatment well enough — hallelujah! It will be intense times leading up to transplant where I am knocked further to a semblance of smithereens, which I am conveniently and appropriately not thinking about. As you know by now, I work to stay in thismoment!
But one thing gives me extensive pause.
I have thirty perfect matches for a bone marrow transplant. Considering I only need one, this is a remarkable number and excellent news. Of course, we need to find the right person within that group who is still willing and able, and hopefully under forty. The transplant team at MGH is working on this complex process as I write. The abundant number of potential donors is likely due to the fact that I have Latvian/German peasant stock genes and apparently there are a lot of us out there! And organizations run bone marrow registries all the time. Being a bone marrow donor is not as arduous as say, donating a kidney, though it’s certainly a medical process to go through. Maybe you’ve done the quick cheek swab to become part of that registry?
As I fall further into debt, I am humbled by people willing to offer their blood, their cells, and in other settings, their organs, to provide essential healing and help for a person they do not even know. In Judaism this is one of the highest levels of tzedakah or charity. The only one higher is working to prevent a person or community from needing…