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|Written by ze|
|Friday, 19 December 2008 08:17|
Yesterday I went with Elsa and Maya to Boston (Filipa was in school). Elsa had a doctor's visit at Brigham and Women's Hospital so she stopped by Dana-Farber, next door, to say hello to her doctors and the nurses that take care of her. Her team, as she calls them.
In the lobby, where I waited for Elsa and Maya to make their rounds, the "Friends of Dana-Farber" were handing out cake and juice to passers by. I took out my journal and jotted down how eight years ago, I think exactly to the date, Elsa and I were seating in that same lobby, Elsa showing her nervousness, me trying to hide mine, while we waited for her doctor's appointment. The Friends of Dana-Farber were handing out cakes that day, and we found it strange and wonderful that they were doing so. The warmth emanating from Dana-Farber was certainly a stark contrast to the cold, mediaval, draconian vibes exuded (with exceptions, of course) by the Centro Hospital Conde São Januario, in Macau, where Elsa had recently undergone six months of what turned out to be ineffective and inappropriate chemotherapy.
Eight years! Maya wasn't even born then. We were living in exactly the opposite part of the world. So much has happened in that time span.
Thinking back on all the moments of uncertainty, the gut wrentching decisions we had to make, I have to say that it feels good to know, that it always helps to know, that Dana-Farber is there, with the same welcoming attitute, the same willingness to care for the people who trust them to do so.
But what really struck me, as I sat at the lobby, was how time has not changed Elsa's desire to fight on. How after eight years, she still maintains hope and the willingness do offer her self to the scientific search for the means to fight her cancer. I know her attitude has helped many people, including her self. I know that when a cure, when the means to stop liposarcomas is eventually found, she will have played a role in it.
And hey, it's the eight Christmas since she found out she had cancer. Is it coincidence that it is the one where she had good news? Maybe the Chinese are right. The is such a thing as the lucky number 8.
Every year, a week before Christmas, someone who had a family member treated at Dana-Farber serves all sorts of Holiday goodies to everyone passing by the Dana-Farber lobby. Today when I went to DF (just to hug my team) and I saw the Friends of Dana Farber volunteers distributing smiles, cakes and Happy Holidays wishes, I realized that my first visit to DF was exactly eight years ago.
Eight years ago, I was sitting in the same lobby, nervously opening and closing the Boston Globe, without being able to read it. I had come to the United States, all the way from Macau, just for a consultation with Dr. Morgan and Dr. Singer. At the time, I remember asking the receptionist if the Institute was like that everyday.
"The free cake is only once a year, but the hugs are free and abundant all year long," she said.
Thanks for the hugs. They make infinite difference.