Letters to the Editor

Nearly two years ago, I checked into Emory Hospital and died. I was given a hell-of-a shot, which killed every blood cell in my body. Now if the story stopped then, it would be very sad. However, two days later, a tiny bag of five million of my pre-harvested stem cells was dripped back into me.

I had a horrible couple of weeks of body and soul-racking exhaustion, nausea, diarrhea, diffuse aches, confusion (I heard organ music all the time), and despair. I was lower than a snake’s belly.

My hair started falling out on the bedsheets. One of the night nurses smiled and gently said in her lilting voice, “What do you think? Shall we buzz it off?” And she did.

My husband and I can truly say we encountered nothing but compassion, support, good humor, and above and beyond, help, in Cancerland. From the valets that helped us out of the car a gazillion times at Winship Cancer Center to the infusion nurses day in and day out at Piedmont West.

The stakes were so, so high for me. When the people around us treated us with dignity and unfailing decency, we drank it in like a tonic. Well, more than a year later ... I’m grateful to God. For so much.

Sometimes almost dying can be a profoundly lifegiving experience. This is true for a person or even a country. Almost dying brings to your mind and heart what you love about living. Remember that. Look for the helpers. Take heart.

The Rev. Martha Sterne
Episcopal priest (retired)

Thanks so much for “Survivor Stories” in the fall issue. Jerry Grillo does a splendid job of capturing the uncertainties of the early days of the pandemic and highlighting the disproportionate impact COVID-19 has on Black Americans. The individual stories of the heroic patients and their families add human faces to the facts and figures we have all had to become aware of in the last few months.

The combination of an important topic and fine writing is powerful.

Susan Percy
Decatur, GA

Thank you for your help in making this year’s 17th Annual Hamilton E. Holmes Memorial Lecture, on Feb. 17, such a wonderful success. At our highest point there were more than 170 individuals engaged in the virtual conversation, and since the lecture another 130+ have viewed the video online. The program and the way it came together exemplified some of Emory’s best qualities: community, academic excellence, and service.

During 2020, we weathered the effects of COVID-19 and heard a "cry for racial justice some 400 years in the making." Our guest lecturers, Dr. Kevin L. Gilliam II 09MR and Dr. Iesha Galloway-Gilliam 10MR joined us from Minneapolis, where they stood together on the front lines of both. Their story, "The Two Traumas," was first featured in the Fall 2020 issue of Emory Medicine magazine.

For anyone who missed the event, view a video and transcript.

Allen Lee
Associate director,
Office of Multicultural Affairs,
Emory School of Medicine

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