No matter how hard I try, I will never be able to pen a proper tribute to the people of Roswell Park. Perhaps I am too close to the institute and too biased to be objective, now that I am a patient. But the people there are providing me with one of the finest experiences that I could have ever imagined having in a hospital setting.
This is sounding a bit too sanguine, I know; but Roswell Park is the only place that I am aware of where equality has been achieved to the greatest degree possible.
I say this because whether a patient comes from a certain background, adheres to the practices of a particular religion or has been born into an easily identifiable ethnic class or group, it does not matter. Cancer does not discriminate and neither do those who love the field and who have dedicated themselves to curing this dreaded disease. They do so with smiles that are genuine and hearts that are filled with concern.
In these past few months, I have been honored to meet a group of doctors, nurses, aides and other staff who have confessed to "loving what they do," enjoying the working times they have together and even sharing their professional comradery with the young in training and anxious to graduate. They, too, would like to become members of this gracious staff and indelible environment.
All of the staff members I have met seem pleased to be working as a family, and they treat their patients as members of a family as well. Maybe in some ways, we patients have developed a comradery of our own. Through our long months and years of treatment, we come to know one another and the severity of each other's ills; so it's with these precious moments that our hearts go forth. That's what makes Roswell Park so special, and that's what makes health care provided in this way so vital.
Sometimes I tire of the dastardly political fights that ensue over who should receive health care and who shouldn't, or if health care should be provided at all. How ironic indeed that the very people who are so vehement in their objection to health care for all have themselves the finest plans that money can buy. And yet, who among them would willingly confront those women whose heads must be wrapped, or the failing children being held tightly in the arms of their parents, or the Vietnam vets who after 29 years are still suffering and dying from their dedication and service?
Who shall tell them all that health care is too expensive, but not the wars that yield the need for even more medical attention? It will not be the staff at Roswell Park; they are too busy curing the ills that society has created.
The tragedy of cancer comes long before an individual is admitted to an institute like Roswell Park, which should force us to examine a society that spawns such illnesses through its industrial waste and other toxic minerals, to examine the approved farming methods that poison our food in the name of free trade and, finally, to examine our work environments that are all but destroying the integrity of our bodies.
What we are left with are high-priced medicines that serve as meager efforts to undo the damage being done by a society whose only interest is the bottom line. The people at Roswell Park are willing to clean up the mess that society propagates and leaves behind, and it is all accomplished with sincerity, integrity and sometimes broken hearts for those who did not make it. With all this considered, I think my tribute is decidedly inadequate.
Wes Carter, a professor at the University at Buffalo, is grateful for the excellent care he is receiving at Roswell Park.