i've got the cure for you


Solidarity of the Suffering
November 20, 2010, 1:21 am
Filed under: a purpose driven life, Life | Tags: , , ,

This is my third year here at the University of Toronto and being in a life sciences related major, it’s becomes apparent, if not right when I entered then most certainly by now that most people when they here about us think we’re ruthless in a somewhat dog-eat-dog world. Of course there are exceptions but that seems to be the general portrayal being passed around. Having a few friends in engineering, I can only admire just how much of a close-knit community feeling they have with each other. But I couldn’t for the longest time wrap my mind around why? It wasn’t until I was talking to a good friend of mine on the topic of suffering. And using the engineers as an example in our discussion, it’s normal for most if not all to be failing below a 60% but it’s still not the end of the world for them. But how is that close-knit feeling harvested from failing? Perhaps if we looked back to the basic human suffering we can find that answer. Okay, I’m going on a huge tangent here that seems nothing related to health but hear me out. I think it’s through human suffering that is what brings solidarity between all of us. And one example that depicts this clearly is cancer.

For centuries we never knew it existed but now we realize it continually encompasses such a large population of the world. Breast cancer has progressively shown just how much suffering can bring us all together, whether you are living with it, a close loved one or even someone you had just met and diagnosed the next day. And just these two words alone in a conversation with a stranger brings an immediate unspoken connection. On the official launch date of the Youth4Health group, standing at the new ELLICSR space in the basement of the Toronto General Hospital listening to Scott answer my questions about the Cancer Survivorship Program at PMH made me realize this solidarity from suffering all the more. Did you know that there was no realĀ  survivorship program for cancer patients prior to this one that was just implemented five years ago? I think it all started with group of passionate people that got together and realized what was lacking and the real support needed to be given patients outside of treatment and the doctors office. From our icebreakers and sharing, I strongly believe that some type of suffering brought all 7 us together to form a subgroup of the Youth4health. We’ve all experienced suffering in some form or another, as a victim or a personal witness. Either way, I’m sure a few of those moments have shaped the way we are and the way we see our lives.

Recently, I just learned that someone that I work with had to discontinue their studies to take care of their mother who had just gotten back positive biopsy samples for breast cancer. No one expected it, but suffering happens. And the mother will never look at life the same way again but I admire my colleague for the dedication and compassion. But this is one story out of several others that exist out there. Because of suffering, we try to make the best of the situation and continually improve patient outcomes through research, support groups,etc. Like the people that help launched the PMH Cancer Survivorship Program, I couldn’t be more excited to be part of something so moving and contribute to their work. Jill has worked hard to find a unique group to come together and I sincerely think all 7 of us have something equally special to bring to this project from our life experiences. Solidarity.

(This was also a post I made for the Youth4Health website which you can check out here.)