When I became ill two years ago, I initially avoided googling my disease because I was so frightened and didn’t want to read about my impending demise. Little by little, tiny rays of hope were being tossed my way, and I finally gained enough courage to begin my investigation and learn as much as I could about Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma so I could cultivate hope and learn about strategies to combat the disease. I became committed to getting well and creating an environment in my body that would not support such an unwelcomed defect, or any other disease for that matter. I admit that I wasn’t completely convinced that it could be done, but I had nothing to lose.
The tiny rays of hope came in many forms. I had no shortage of friends and family members supporting me. Oncology workers, doctors, hair and wig stylists, massage therapists and reiki practitioners came to my rescue too. On-Line chat groups and Facebook groups with members just like me were life lines.
A couple of months ago, a post from a guy named Scott Baker showed up on my news feed from one of the FB groups I belong to. It caught my eye because it mentioned the YMCA LiveSTRONG program. For reasons I’m not sure of, I had a feeling that he was local. I messaged him, and I was right. We became FB friends. I noticed on his page that he wrote a book called “No One Rises Alone: What Almost Dying Taught Me About Living”. The book is a detailed account of his experiences with four bouts of Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, two of which included Primary Central Nervous System Lymphoma. The disease went to his brain, and he suffered significant cognitive impairments as a result, not to mention the worry that he and his family experienced about his prognosis. I just finished reading what was an honest and comprehensive account of his struggles and victories surrounding these health issues, and am profoundly moved by his description about how almost dying has changed him. I’m also in awe that he recovered so well from the disease and the cognitive issues, and was able to put such a well written story together. His hope, commitment to getting well, and his newly found and self-imposed mission to help others fueled his recovery. He’s been free from disease for five years!
Scott knows the value of receiving help in many, many forms and wants to give hope and reassurance that the people he meets, either in person or in cyber space, know they’re not alone and that there’s hope. I was a beneficiary of his good will last month as I was anticipating my upcoming scan and MD appointment. He put my mind at ease, and my worries about the appointments diminished significantly. The results of my scan were good.
I haven’t met this friend in person yet, but am looking forward to shaking his hand, giving him a hug if he’s open to it, and thanking him for sharing so much of his life in his book.
I saw this quote last week and thought of Scott and how it describes him to a tee:
“I think of a hero as someone who understands the degree of responsibility that comes with his freedom.”
—Bob Dylan [Robert Allen Zimmerman] (born 1941)
The freedom he has experienced from working so hard to regain his health has come with a sense of responsibility to help others.
And as it turns out, he’s a natural and powerful instrument to all who have the pleasure of knowing him, either in person or from reading his book.
Thank you, Scott.