Colleena’s Gift of Friendship
His name was Mischa, a Romanian Gypsy Prince, he assured us. He played the piano like no one I had ever heard before. Skipping from one piece to another, whether classical or musical theatre, he knew every musical score ever written yet he could not read music and had basic education. Mischa spoke six languages and had many tales to tell of the history of his father, a King among The Roms people who originated from Pakistan before scattering throughout the world. Mischa was just one patient we spoke to each week through our voluntary project, Gift of Friendship.
Every Thursday my friend Kerry and I visit patients on various wards, patients who have a life story like Mischa who spend twenty-two hours weekly on dialysis; although most of our time is spent with haematology patients and those having a bone marrow transplant.
After receiving two bone marrow transplants fourteen years ago, and supporting patients over the past ten years, I realise only too well that cancers of the blood (or any cancer) is an insidious disease that has no boundaries. We have spent time with professional people, tradies, professors, male, female, young and old. Those who have led a healthy life and those who have not. Their journeys are similar, but never the same.
Many patients make contact when they return home from having a bone marrow transplant to say thank you, and tell us how comforting it was to have us travel with them through their journey â€“ from diagnosis to treatment and recovery. I realise how every step can be frightening, so to talk through their feelings with a survivor gives patients the hope they need to travel that journey.
Thanks to generous donations and members of the Arrow Bone Marrow Transplant Foundation who pledge money to research, support and education, the velocity of development in treatment and recovery has progressed not only for patients with blood related cancers, but is rapidly spreading to help patients with many other diseases.
I consider it an honour to support patients going through a bone marrow transplant and feel extremely lucky to have the opportunity to do so with Gift of Friendship.