Thursday, October 1, 2009

“Plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope" - Jeremiah

I was very pleased to be invited for a second year by cancer survivor Julie Hillers to a lunch that supports Swedish Hospital, where she receives such excellent care. The Women's Wellness Lunch attracted around 940 people, who were presented with an extraordinary program.

Here's table captain Julie (center) listening to KOMO-TV's Kathi Goertzen, the mistress of ceremonies. From the program: "Over the past few years, Kathi has had several surgeries to deal with a recurrent non-cancerous brain tumor. She continues to recover from the effects of surgery and radiation on the nerves that control her voice, swallowing and facial movement. She has been open about her experiences and tries to help others faced with similar health challenges."

Nancy Abramson offered up her lessons learned as the featured speaker, noting that many cliches are actually true. She wittily used nearly every cliche I have ever heard in describing how much she had learned (and gained) from cancer.

Finally, a note about the lunch's chair, the estimable florist Martha Harris, a non-Hodgkins lymphoma survivor. Martha appeared in person rather than on video because she developed a cold last week that kept her from having a (second) pulmonary transplant today. She will be in the thick of that surgery tomorrow. I was so shocked to hear that news that I indeed hope I understood it properly. She reminded us all that funds raised at today's lunch will help raise the $4 million more needed for the True Family Women's Cancer Center that Swedish is building. All cancer providers will, for the first time, be housed in the same place.

The blessing was offered beautifully by Father Paul Fitterer, who found some of the most elegant and moving passages from the prophet Jeremiah to cite and reflect upon.

But it was oncologist Dr. Hank Kaplan who drove home a key point: today, every cancer patient has options, has cards to play and, most importantly, should have hope. This is a man who changes every person he touches, and offers a combination of realism and hope that must surely be compelling.

I hope that Julie will invite me back again next year.

No comments: