Saturday, July 10, 2010

Divide and Conquer

Alan Sullivan wrote this poem. It echoes and clarifies whispers you've heard on these pages.

Like me he had CLL. Like me he was diagnosed in 2005. Like me he was 11q del.

He died yesterday.

We never met, but the wise and compassionate CLL pioneer, Dr. Terry Hamblin shared his story on his blog.

Alan's blog is called Fresh Bilge.

I am again thankful to someone I have never met. Maybe we need to redefine what it means to meet in the days of the internet.

Thank you Alan. Rest in peace.

Divide and Conquer

The cells divide. The cells that will not die
divide too well and so they multiply.
They kill the host to keep themselves alive.

The blood goes bad. In vain physicians try
to purge the veins with drugs the cells defy.
The cells divide. The cells that will not die

mutate anew. The hardy few survive.
The few recruit the many teeming by.
They kill the host to keep themselves alive.

They colonize the nodes from neck to thigh.
The tumors grow, and scanners never lie.
The cells divide. The cells that will not die

stifle the very organs where they thrive.
Blind, stupid things—their purpose gone awry—
they kill the host to keep themselves alive.

Exploding through the flesh, they multiply,
but immortality eludes them. Why?
The cells divide. The cells that will not die
kill the host to keep themselves alive.

There is more news. Better news.

My friend with his aggressive hard to kill 17p del CLL, Robert, in the filtered air and negative pressure of a transplant room at City of Hope (such memories), after an terrifying wait, is finally starting to engraft, the process of becoming another when the one we are is not enough to affect a cure. G-d speed in your metamorphosis, Robert.

Alan's poem tells the cold truth, but not the only truth. Robert, and thousands of others, myself among them I hope, give testimony to other happier endings to the poem and the story.

We are truly all in this together.

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Anonymous Marilyn said...

A special post, this. Thanks for sharing the poem.

July 11, 2010 at 11:38 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I, too, was a follower of Alan's blog, 'Fresh Bilge'.

I liked Alan. He and I shared a similar view on most political things, though I'm more of an agnostic when it comes to anthropological global warming. I've seen the photos of the North American glaciers, and the retreat is significant and obvious. That means the earth is changing, and growing warmer.

I must admit I am puzzled as how he ended up in such a bad situation. I know in the last couple of weeks, he started spiking very high fevers, well over 102. And he had racking abdominal pain. Yet his doc apparently never insisted upon a hospital visit.

I wonder what went wrong. He said there was no abdominal perforation, but he seemed to have something serious happen.

Do you know? I'm curious because I'm 11q del also, and I want to know what is up ahead, around the bend.


July 26, 2010 at 11:25 AM  

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