Monday, December 12, 2005

December 6, 2005 - Help From David

Today the networking begins in earnest. I spend an hour and half visiting with David, pastor of a nearby Presbyterian Church. David is about the same age as me, and is himself an NHL survivor, now three years into remission. Like me, he has the follicular form of the disease – although he also had one of the more aggressive varieties in addition to it (it’s uncommon for one person to have more than one type, he tells me).

David was very seriously ill indeed, several years ago. He almost died, and was saved at the eleventh hour by stem-cell replacement therapy at Sloan-Kettering. I hang on his every word, for his experience is the closest thing I have seen to a road map of what’s ahead (I hope the herculean effort of stem-cell replacement will not be part of my journey, although it could be). David is particularly helpful in sketching out the various side effects of chemotherapy. He had the same "CHOP-R" (the CHOP chemotherapy cocktail, plus Rituxan) that Dr. Lerner is recommending for me.

In theological debates in presbytery meetings, David and I have not always found ourselves on the same side of the aisle. On many of the more controversial issues that divide our denomination, he is a conservative, and I am a liberal. But that matters little now. We are in this together.

In a prior telephone conversation, I had told David of my diagnosis and of my interest in going to Memorial Sloan-Kettering for a second opinion. He has already put a call in to his personal physician, Dr. Craig Moskowitz, who is on the staff of that hospital. I appreciate this most of all, and tell him so.

I leave more hopeful than when I arrived.

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