The Power of Many

So many in need, so many willing to help

In the past few months, so many of us have learned who will show up when the going gets tough. We, here on the East Coast of the United States saw an overwhelming response to the devastating results of Hurricane Sandy in our area. So many showed up to volunteer, some were people who lost everything, but wanted to heal others, the rest were just good souls willing to get their hands dirty for their neighbors. As it turned out, this support was stronger than the support we are supposed to get by paying our insurance or our tax money.

We also saw the country pull together for the tragedy in Connecticut when the innocent souls were the victims of a lost tortured person who did the unthinkable. Again the outpouring of support, renewed our spirits and our faith in each other as human beings with the capacity to heal each other.

This weekend, I received a message that my dear friend who I have known for 32 years had taken a turn for the worse in her fight against lymphoma. Ellen had fought this battle before, she had beaten the odds twice and went into remission after grueling and miserable chemotherapy treatments.

The third time she was diagnosed, her doctors were not nearly as optimistic as the first two times. They felt that they needed to go extreme and go for stem cell transfer. Ellen declined because she did not want to be that weakened. She also did not want to be vulnerable for the rest of her life for the cells to be rejected by her body. There were no guarantees. She decided to go across our country to try to be part of a highly successful clinic trial. She spent her hard earned money and also found support from her mother and good friends to seek an answer. She was bewildered to learn that during the trial, her cancer had spread. Back to her side of the country to try chemo once again which she of course did not want.

She grieved briefly and then pulled herself up and got busy getting chemo treatments. Never have I seen such a warrior. She would be sick all day, yet make sure that she was visible at any event that her friends and her family needed her to be. Her throat would be hurting from the lymphoma so there were days she did not speak as much, but on the days she was okay, she was chatting up a storm, bringing good thoughts and messages to others whenever she could.

The repeated chemo has done a great deal of damage. Ellen suffers from nightmares and from major anxiety which she did not have before she went through all of the poisonous chemotherapy treatments. She would have mood swings and often exhibited poor judgment. She was aware of this. She knew this was happening and often felt the need to apologize to others who did not understand. I used to tell her not to waste her energy, that people needed to be less sensitive and more understanding. Also debate is good for the soul and if they don't agree with you, or what you said, so be it.

On Saturday, I heard that Ellen was on life support fighting for her life. She had contracted pneumonia and simply could not fight both pneumonia and cancer at the same time. The doctors told everyone that it would take a miracle for her to come off the machines and breathe on her own. Everyone should prepare to say goodbye.

We had gone to Catholic school together. The girls from our school mobilized into action. A prayer chain. We spread the word via facebook. Everyone has been praying every day and passing the word on to others. Our alumnae association got on board to pray for their sister that they never even met, but love anyway. The nuns from the convent associated with our school have also begun to pray for Ellen everyday. The outpouring of love and support has been overwhelming.

We got word yesterday that although Ellen remains critical and in serious condition, she is indeed breathing off the ventilator. The miracle the doctor asked for arrived. One obstacle down. Now we are praying for her to keep breathing and regain strength enough to go back to her fight against cancer. I am hoping she has been made aware of how many are praying for her and wishing her peace. Even if she doesn't, it is okay because we are all still here and wanting to help in anyway we can. The power of many is working and the support we have found through each other is amazing. Through this outreach, I have heard what others are going through at this time. So many in need of prayer and hope. It makes a person grateful. It makes the "problems" we think we have fade away into small annoyances.

We are still praying for Ellen and for each other. If we have learned anything over the past few months it is that we, as humans truly need each other. We need a shoulder to cry on, an arm to lean on and an ear to listen to us or to listen to others. We are often overwhelmed when we are facing something alone, but great and powerful when we are backed by many and by faith.

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