Friday, May 28, 2010
Thursday, May 27, 2010
My brother has been battling cancer for the last 7 years. He is a true inspiration and has personally been through 15 chemo treatments and 10 radiotherapy treatments. In 2008 it was my pleasure to accompany my other brother Andrew to Holland for stem cell replacement therapy for my brother David, and spend time helping them all. Not an easy task with three older siblings together but truly an experience.
This weekend he embarks on something wonderful. He is climbing a mountain on a bike!
Alpe d’HuZes – www.opgevenisgeenoptie.nl
Alpe d’Huzes was created with the aim to empower people to convert the sense of powerlessness, caused by cancer, into one of strength. Since 2006 we have encouraged and challenged people to extend their boundaries beyond what they thought were possible. Alpe d’HuZes is founded on the absolute belief that you can attain the greatest possible satisfaction if you put your heart and soul into helping others. Our motto is “Never, ever quit”! We refuse to accept any limitations in what we can and will achieve. This is true for the cyclists, sponsors, and physicians, but mostly of course for the patients themselves.
Alpe d’HuZes’ goal is to develop a custom-made rehabilitation program for cancer patients that will be totally covered by the national health insurance. We feel this is necessary because at the moment cancer patients do not have an appropriate rehabilitation program designed for their specific needs such as those available for heart patients. For Alpe d’HuZes rehabilitation is of the utmost importance to cancer patients, as it adds to their quality of life. Our goals and philosophy are echoed in our mission statement: To facilitate and inspire people to lead Happy and Healthy lives in Harmony with cancer. Our foundation works for this unique program together with the KWF Kankerbestrijding (Dutch Cancer Society), Vrije Universiteit Medical Center, The Academisch Medisch Centrum, The Dutch Cancer Institute, and the Telematica Institute.
In 2009 at the Vrije Universiteit in Amsterdam, Alpe d’HuZes will establish a Faculty Chair: Living with Cancer. The focus of this chair will reach beyond the basic rehabilitation program that deals primarily with the physical aspects of living with cancer and aims to combine and coordinate the physical and social aspects of life with cancer.
Monday, May 24, 2010
Thursday, May 13, 2010
The Cab Ride
- a story for you all
I arrived at the address and honked the horn. After waiting a few minutes I walked to the door and knocked.
'Just a minute', answered a frail, elderly voice. I could hear something being dragged across the floor...
After a long pause, the door opened. A small woman in her 90's stood before me...
She was wearing a print dress and a pillbox hat with a veil pinned on it, like somebody out of a 1940's movie. By her side was a small nylon suitcase. The apartment looked as if no one had lived in it for years. All the furniture was covered with sheets. There were no clocks on the walls, no knickknacks or utensils on the counters. In the corner was a cardboard box filled with photos and glassware.
'Would you carry my bag out to the car?' she said. I took the suitcase to the cab, and then returned to assist the woman. She took my arm and we walked slowly toward the curb. She kept thanking me for my kindness.
'It's nothing', I told her... 'I just try to treat my passengers the way I would want my mother treated'.
'Oh, you're such a good boy', she said.
When we got in the cab, she gave me an address and then asked,’ could you drive through downtown?'
'It's not the shortest way,' I answered quickly....’Oh, I don't mind,' she said.’ I’m in no hurry. I'm on my way to a hospice'.
I looked in the rear-view mirror. Her eyes were glistening. 'I don't have any family left,' she continued in a soft voice... 'The doctor says I don't have very long. 'I quietly reached over and shut off the meter.
'What route would you like me to take?' I asked. For the next two hours, we drove through the city. She showed me the building where she had once worked as an elevator operator. We drove through the neighbourhood where she and her husband had lived when they were newlyweds. She had me pull up in front of a furniture warehouse that had once been a ballroom where she had gone dancing as a girl. Sometimes she'd ask me to slow in front of a particular building or corner and would sit staring into the darkness, saying nothing...
As the first hint of sun was creasing the horizon, she suddenly said, 'I'm tired. Let's go now'. We drove in silence to the address she had given me. It was a low building, like a small convalescent home, with a driveway that passed under a portico.
Two orderlies came out to the cab as soon as we pulled up. They were solicitous and intent, watching her every move. They must have been expecting her.
I opened the trunk and took the small suitcase to the door. The woman was already seated in a wheelchair.
'How much do I owe you?' She asked, reaching into her purse.
'Nothing,' I said
'You have to make a living,' she answered.
'There are other passengers,' I responded.
Almost without thinking, I bent and gave her a hug.
She held onto me tightly. 'You gave an old woman a little moment of joy,' she said. 'Thank you.'
I squeezed her hand, and then walked into the dim morning light. Behind me, a door shut. It was the sound of the closing of a life. I didn't pick up any more passengers that shift. I drove aimlessly lost in thought.
For the rest of that day, I could hardly talk. What if that woman had gotten an angry driver, or one who was impatient to end his shift? What if I had refused to take the run, or had honked once, then driven away?
On a quick review, I don't think that I have done anything more important in my life. We're conditioned to think that our lives revolve around great moments. But great moments often catch us unaware – beautifully wrapped in what others may consider a small one.