I want to tell you about something that happened to me today.

A man called today (into work, at a not-for-profit health-related fund-raising organization) and he was so nice over the phone, and very professional and funny, asking me if I am Irish and so on and so forth. Sincerely nice person. The call display comes up as “Dr. xxxxx” and he says he is a doctor, and I can hear his wife in the background fussing around the kitchen. He didn’t sound very old, no more than say my uncles over the phone. This isn’t a crank caller.

And I am fine and being my usual cheery self over the phone, but he suddenly tells me that he has been suffering from an advanced form of the cancer that my workplace is focussed on, he had a major surgery recently, and he is in so much pain that he cannot sleep at night and he can’t relax. And then this very nice, gentle sounding person tells me that he would rather put a gun to his head and die now than go through that pain anymore, and he wants help tracking down a renowned urologist in the US so he can go and pay for advanced treatment in the US.

I can still hear his wife piping up in the background and so I know he is not being completely literal, but I can’t help being moved and there is definitely stress now in his voice and I want to help. I put him on hold and check briefly with one of the media people about whether they are familiar with a famous US doctor who has recently published a book, and she hasn’t heard of anyone (but says also that she only knows of Canadian researchers).

She gives me a US website, and sure enough this person is right up on the front page and promoting a book, a specialist at John Hopkins. So I am still on the phone with this man, as calm and cool as can be because I am no good to anyone if I get emotional over the phone, and he gives me a fax number and asks me to send him whatever I find. And he wants info on our foundation, and he also wants a donation form so he can donate to us. He tells me that he is a heavyweight with xxxxxx in Toronto and he can swing funds our way, and I Google later and sure enough, he is on the board of directors and is a prolific donor with other organizations. I Googled later, after the call, because I had this moment where I felt like I needed to verify the facts.

So I do it and he is so appreciative for my help. He hangs up and I feel so moved to help. I fax everything, and call to tell him it is sent through, and I end up speaking to his wife because he is having a nap. And she is really sweet and tells me that she wouldn’t wish his pain on anyone and thanks me for sending them information.

So there it is, and I am still thinking about it after work. I actually felt teared up, and what is funny is my colleague noticed and thought I was stressed or upset about some stupid random job related thing BUT it was really because I felt just horribly about this other situation.

I needed to write this out because writing is a way of focusing my thoughts, better sometimes than trying to speak it out. The main thing is that I am perfectly fine, and probably healthier than ever because I am feeling things outside of me and feeling like, maybe, I am in the better kind of job where I can actually help people who need it.

Erin, heart firmly stitched to the sleeve.