"Praise to You, Adonai our God, Sovereign of the universe, for giving us life, for sustaining us, and for enabling us to reach this occasion."
Two years ago today, I walked into the infusion center at Winship Cancer Center at Emory University for my first round of chemotherapy.
Today, I’m hanging out with my eight month old nephew.
That is no small accomplishment. On my end, for sure. A surgery, 22 rounds of chemo, 8 months of oral chemo, and three weeks of radiation are a lot to endure.
But that's just the start of it.
Imagine the work of the doctors and researchers and scientists who came up with the medical technology to keep my colon cancer at bay. Not to mention the patients who took part in the clinical trials as they tried to figure out what combination of drugs worked best on these combinations of cell mutations. The pathologists who watched and learned and counted the cells. That’s not to mention the surgery I had to get the tumor out of me. That didn’t appear out of nowhere. Think of the years of practice and the fatal mistakes that lead to the development of the techniques that allowed them to cut me open, remove a part of my body, all without killing me. I haven’t even mentioned the anesthesia and the pain medication that made the surgery physically bearable. Those advancements represent people's entire life's work. Then there are the nurses who administer the drugs. Who are there with us while we get this horrible, life saving medicine. Who probably know more about the effects it has on patients than the doctors themselves.
Who could forget the people who spend their days keeping the hospitals clean and safe so our weakened immune systems aren’t compromised more than they already are.
It’s so easy to be swept away by the myth of self reliance, but the truth is we are interconnected to the very core of our beings. So I might be sitting here, alone, writing, while my nephew takes his nap. But an entire world of people got me to this point. And a world of people got you to where you are. Reading this blog. On your phone. Probably sitting on your toilet. Another miracle, if you think about it. One which we blithely assume was always there.
So this weekend, Jaimie and I will have our Passover dinner, and we will say the words of my favorite Jewish prayer, "Praise to You, Adonai our God, Sovereign of the universe, for giving us life, for sustaining us, and for enabling us to reach this season." I'll think about everything it took to get me here.
And when I celebrate Easter on Sunday, I'll think about how death leads to new life. And of all the ways I'm different now than when I walked into that infusion center two years ago today.
Happy Passover and Happy Easter.