Sunday, November 16, 2008

day +453

This weekend has been a lazy one after a relatively busy week, hence, this belated post.

On Tuesday, I attended the Lauri Strauss Leukemia Foundation's Gala Benefit Concert for cancer research at Carnegie Hall. It was my first time in the famed concert hall. Broadway was the theme of the concert. I'm sure that people more knowledge about musicals would easily recognize the many stars, who performed but I recognized but one: Tony Danza. He sang a piece from The Producers. Songs from South Pacific, The Sound of Music, Show Boat, The Phantom of the Opera, Gypsy, and others were also performed.

Of course, the music and the hall were amazing, but that's not why I or the hundreds of other people were really there. We were there to celebrate life . . . renewed life. I was invited by one of the true stars, a friend and fellow SCT survivor, who along with his unrelated donor were being recognized and celebrated before family, friends, and others. Another recipient-donor couple was recognized too, but the difference was that for this second group it was their very first time meeting one another. There on the illustrious stage of Carnegie Hall before hundreds and hundreds of people life was affirmed and celebrated. It was wonderful being a part of such a special, moving event. Admiring the new bond between my friend and his donor, I could not help but think of my anonymous donor. At least two months have passed since I signed and submitted the release form, which informs my donor of my personal contact information, but I haven't received his or a response yet. As the holidays approach, I will send him a card or letter once again.

The following evening I had my first volunteer experience at the adult literacy center. Training to become a volunteer GED or reading/writing tutor is seasonal and the next one doesn't begin until January. In the meantime, however, I was told that I could help out proctoring the admissions tests and reviewing the results with the students. Moreover, this might serve as a helpful introduction into the world of adult literacy volunteering and prepare me for next year. So, that's what I did on Wednesday. From about 5:30 - 8:30, I assisted in the proctorship of the math exams. The experience itself was pretty good. As a proctor, there is limited interaction amongst the students. I provided the tests and supplies, explained its rules to the students, and told them that if they needed any help to let me or one of the other volunteers know. At the end of the testing, we collected the exams and gave them to the administrator for grading. Despite the fact that my interaction with the students was limited at least on this first night, I felt very useful and helpful. Next Wednesday, I'll probably spend less time supervising the math exam and more time reviewing with the students their results on the reading/writing exam, which they take two days earlier.

Sadly, the financial crisis and the drying up of large donations from wealthy benefactors has resulted in some layoffs and the closing of at least one of the literacy program's locations in the city, which is why this and other non-profit organizations are in great need of volunteers.

Friday afternoon was spent at Hackensack University Medical Center in NJ, where I participated in a meeting amongst 7 other SCT survivors (with various diagnoses) who shared their thoughts and experiences to researchers. As part of Mount Sinai School of Medicine's Sharing Our Strength Study, its researchers invited us to Hackensack looking for feedback that may help them in creating resources that better prepare patients for the psychological and physical challenges of transplantation. You can learn more about this research study, which continues to seek new participants, here.

The fall foliage is past peak in NYC and most of the region. I was waiting all year for this period to arrive, but it seems like it wasn't here long enough for me to appreciate it fully. I had composed a list of places to photograph, but managed to capture just a few. The beauty of the peak foliage is so fleeting. At Inwood Hill Park about one week ago, I came upon a gorgeous tree proudly displaying its wonderful mix of golden, crimson, and orange leaves. I returned to the same tree a few days later and its top third was bare. The rest of its leaves had withered. In a matter of just days, the tree's radiance had dimmed.

Here are three samples of some of the shots I captured before things changed:



One Early Fall Morning


Comment Anonymous EFG said...

what an incredible week you had with the 3 fantastic events you attended. You continue to amaze me.
The 3 new photographs are terrific and I think you should put them in the Patient Art Show at MSKCC next Spring. I definitely want one of them but have to decide which one.

See you soon.


7:52 AM  
Comment Blogger One Mother with Cancer said...

You take such wonderful pictures.

4:00 PM  
Comment Blogger Adrienne said...

Hi Duane, The pictures are gorgeous as usual. I love the fall in the east. It looks like we'll be out there in a few weeks so we'll let you know. I hope we can get together. Hugs, Alison (Adrienne's mom)

1:26 AM  
Comment Blogger Duane said...

Thanks everyone!

Alison, please let me know when you two are in town.

6:17 PM  

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