Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Play to Win

During my Tuesday platelet transfusion, I was surrounded by a chorus of five snoring men in Lazy Boy recliners. So much for settling in for a good chat.

But during my blood draw, I got to meet Russell, a 30-year young leukemia survivor who's just beginning to pack pounds back on his 137 pound, 6'1"frame. If he was a woman, his proportions might be considered super modelesque, but instead he looks like a starvation victim with twig-like limbs and slightly distended belly.

His good humor and healthy appetite are recent phenomena: he admits that he's just emerged from several months of severe depression, when he refused to roll out of bed or touch food to his lips.

I asked him if there was a sudden turning point in his mood or if it was a gradual climb from the depths.

His answer surprised me. "After my [donor] stem cell transplant, I developed severe graft versus host disease of the liver and I still had leukemia. My doctors told me they had never seen these two conditions together and said I had less than a 10% chance of living."

"One day I went in for tests and found out that the leukemia had disappeared. The doctors had no explanation. It was a miracle. From that moment, I was no longer depressed." He rolled out of his metaphorical bed and got down to the business of living, complete with daily practice at CoH's on-campus putting green.

"I still need to get my strength back before I can drive a long shot," he admitted, quickly adding that he was looking forward to playing golf with his sister.

Another patient, a fellow resident at Hope Village, suggested trying out a nine-hole course, but Russell looked as though he had missed the point entirely. "I want to BEAT my sister at the game."

In other words, he plays to win. He doesn't even want to get out on the greens if there's a chance he won't win.

It made me think immediately about our earlier conversation, when he disclosed that his chances of "winning" the game of life were less than 10%. With those odds, he chose not to play. But when the odds suddenly and miraculously improved, he got immediately back into the game with every intention of winning.


Karen said...

Watching Wimbledon today, it seemed to me that you have to believe you can win, or you surely won't. William James said something along these lines: If you don't believe that the best world is possible, you won't make the effort needed to make it happen; so you'd better believe in it, or it can't possibly come true. I think that's right. I don't think that positive thinking alone can make red turn green, but if you don't believe red can become green, you won't go buy any paint, either.

What I admire about you, Susan, is the grace and strength which you bring to every uncertain challenge. If there's a way, you've got the will to find it.

I love you,
Mrs. Duck

Susan Carrier said...

I was also reminded of a great Einstein quote while attempting to read the bio, "Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance you must keep moving.” I think it's important to at least go through the motions (movement) even when you're a David up against a Goliath.

Paula Johnson said...

"During my Tuesday platelet transfusion, I was surrounded by a chorus of five snoring men in Lazy Boy recliners. So much for settling in for a good chat."

Susan! Susan! Susan! Have I taught you nothing during our years of friendship?

One lets sleeping dogs lie, but sleeping men? You apply a little blush, mascara and lipstick, and those five fellows could have started rehearsals for a revival of La Cage aux Folles at the Hope Village Theatre.

Susan Carrier said...

Paula, you're too funny! Next time I'll come prepared with the requisite cosmetics.

Anonymous said...

As far as those snoring guys go - some girls on a U.S.A. tour I was on did that to some Australian guys - the guys had had too many drinks the night before, and they woke up on the bus wearing bright blue eyeshadow, marscera, rouge and lipstick! They took it all as a good joke, though, and took photos later with all of us doing high-kicks - so Paula, I think that idea could work extremely well --

Lisa C.