I shared this over at Be More With Less earlier this week and thought I’d post it here as well. Be sure to check out her blog.
I remember lying in my hospital bed in Brampton, Ontario, chatting with my Kenyan-born friend, Timothy, who had come to visit. “If you were in Kenya, you’d probably be dead,” he told me matter-of-factly. That conversation happened over three years ago, shortly after my diagnosis with leukemia, and I haven’t forgotten it.
A lot has happened between that conversation and today. Intense chemotherapy, pharmaceuticals by the truckload, a couple month-long hospital stays, blood transfusions, radiation therapy, access to multi-million dollar pieces of equipment, a bone marrow transplant and an army of world-class doctors, nurses, pharmacists, technicians and medical experts at my disposal 24/7.
The result is that I’m alive and well today and completely cancer-free.
I think back to when I volunteered on a Liberian refugee camp in Ghana. I remember stepping out of the way as a man raced down the rutted street toward the camp’s clinic, carrying a sick loved one in a wheelbarrow. I’m haunted by the image of Rebecca, a 13-year-old girl, writhing in pain on a clinic bed; her father looking on with as much agony etched on his own face. “The medicine is there,” he told me. “But I can’t afford it.”
By sheer luck of latitude, I got the chance to get better. Rebecca did not.
When access to healthcare, clean water, food, money and a roof over my head has always been there, it’s easy to take it for granted. I have a lot to be thankful for, living in a country like Canada. My experience with cancer and volunteering in Ghana has helped me realize that.
So here’s to the big things we often take for granted. Here’s to a refrigerator full of food. Here’s to the electricity that runs that refrigerator. Here’s to clean water being a flick of the faucet away. Here’s to going to bed tonight with a roof over my head (and without the fear of a bomb crashing through it). Here’s to the knowledge that when I dial 911 an ambulance will come get me, not a man with a wheelbarrow.
And here’s to remembering those of us who aren’t so lucky. And to do our part to share our good fortune in whatever ways we can.
What are you grateful for? Add your items to the Thanksgiving Project — the goal is to have 1,000 items by the end of November.
Funny stories. Good advice. Check out my books, “Simple(ton) Living: Lessons in balance from life’s absurd moments.” and “Balancing Priorities and Prioritizing Balance”. Click here to learn more and to purchase a copy. Thanks!