Citizen of the Day: Edward A. Neuwelt
(What is Citizen of the Day?)
“There is only one God, and his name is Death.
And there is only one prayer: ‘Not Today’.”
-With apologies to Syrio Florel and Mr. Martin for the slight rewrite*
The Citizen of the (every other) Day (or so) is brought to you by my Scientific American’s article, Breaking the Brain Barrier. Edward A. Neuwelt is a neurosurgeon who has spent the last 30 years working on surgical procedures for breaching the barrier between the brain and the rest of our blood system. This complex, permeable barrier makes the delivery of drugs over 500 kilodaltons to the brain impossible–drugs that might help fight brain tumors, for instance.
Enter Joanie Lafferty, a 57-year old mother of three whose was given one month to live after her diagnosis of central nervous system lymphoma. Half her body was paralyzed, and she felt she had nothing to lose in trying Neuwelt’s dangerously unorthodox treatment:
“Two months later she was in full remission.
Five years later she still is.”
There is only one God, and his name is Death. And thanks to the work of citizen-scientists like Edward A. Neuwelt, for many patients with brain tumors, the prayer of “Not Today” has been answered. Thank you, Dr. Neuwelt.
5/23, Day 13,533: Bodhisattva
(Why am I naming days?) It was a 13-hour day of work at TCG, but I was boyoued the entire way by the response on Facebook to my last post. In particular, my friend Jennifer Gordon Thomas said, “Bodhisattvas walk among us and I believe Gus is one of them. What’s more, he shows everyone that being a bodhisattva is something we can all do.” That comment was an extraordinary gift to be given, and I will try to live up to it. To quote Tracy from Johnna’s Sans Merci, “I can live off of kindess like that for a long time.”
5/24, Day 13,534: Not Today
See above for the name of this day. Only a 9 and 1/2 hour day at TCG, before I went home and exhausted, lay on the futon waiting for Heather to join me. For about 90 minutes, I drifted through the strata of memories from that futon: Philly, Marthas Vineyard, 10+years now in NYC. The life of objects can be surprisingly powerful. We won’t take the futon with us when we move, so I think this reverie was my goodbye to life in that object…
5/25, Day 13,535: Villages, Births and Showers
First, we visited my brother Allan and his wife Sarah to celebrate the 1-year birthday of our nephew, Robert. He is a beautiful baby, and my whole family was there, as well as a bunch of neighbors that made me feel good about their neighborhood support system There were lots of other babies there that might grow up to be Robert’s best friends!
Then, we drove up for Cathy (Heather’s sister) and John’s wedding shower. The room was full of the vibrant, caring community that surrounds Heather’s Mom, and they are deeply interested in the lives of her children. If it does in fact take a village, yesterday I saw how lucky many of my loved ones are to belong to strong, warm-hearted villages.
What small things did I do the past three days to help build the Honeycomb?
- I Signed an open letter to the Boy Scouts of America today, telling them it’s time to end the ban on gay scouts. It passed, but there is still much work to do to make the Scouts the kind of place I’d want to send any child.
- I was open and engaged with two separate groups of families and friends.
- I asked Obama to turn his words on Guantanamo into action and transfer Shaker Aamer today. I worry this will be our generations’ Japanese internment camps, and I can’t believe so many seemingly innocent men are still impriosned with no hope of even a trial. It undermines our values and our safety by serving as an extremist recuriting tool, and it must be closed as soon as possible.
- I ate vegetarian.
- I added my name to my petition to Florida Assistant State Attorney Brian Workman and Indian River County State Attorney Bruce Colton, demanding they drop the overreaching prosecution of Kaitlyn Hunt immediately.
- Inspired by my friend Sean Williams’ Facebook comment, I’ll acknowledge that over the last three days, I was directly responsible for the following food-related waste: two napkins, two pieces of tinfoil and three small paper pastry sleeves. I don’t use plastic bags, plastic water bottles or paper coffee cups, but I do always end up creating some small waste, and that was my tally for the past three days. There’s a longer post on this subject, inspired by The Story of Stuff, but that will have to wait for another day.
- I called Senator Gillibrand to thank her for her leadership on keeping student loan interest rates low, for advocating for justice for sexual assault survivors in the service, and for pushing for a restored food stamps program.
- I signed a petition to transition Alaska’s Tongass National Forest away from the destructive practice of old-growth logging.
Happy Memorial Day Weekend, all!