Grace Notes #6 — May Brings New Connections, Re-Connections, and New Events

Whew! We have just returned from a long, deep-dive visit to dear family in the Pacific Northwest who we’ve been missing these last forever pandemic years! It meant everything to stay for nearly three weeks and to have lazy, unhurried time to just live together for a while. That sort-of “tribe-ing up” that helped so much during my sister’s illness. We were also able to make some beautiful Grace Street connections new and old, which I will get to shortly.

With Tony, Sister-in-Love Cindy, brother Kevin, niece Brenna and Elle!


But first I want to give you a heads up about a simply beautiful book. One of the new connections that happened was meeting Karen, the events coordinator for Elliott Bay Books in Seattle. Karen is a former nurse, and we had a lovely conversation about families dealing with illness.

And just as I love being introduced to new people, we book-folk also love being introduced to new books. And Karen shared this gem: A Little Book of Self Care for Those Who Grieve, by Paula Becker with watercolors by Rebekah Nichols, available through your favorite bookseller including Elliott Bay Book Company.


At Elliott Bay Book Company in Seattle with Events Coordinator Karen.

We have some wonderful events on deck for Grace Street! I will be part of Turtle Studios Spring Open Studios, held on Saturday, May 21 and Sunday May 22, 2022.

A Turtle Writers Night will be featured Saturday, May 21, from 5-7 pm. A handful of our writers will read from works in progress and I will be reading from Grace Street: A Sister’s Memoir of Grief & Gratitude. If you can, come in the afternoon to enjoy the work of the visual artists and stay for the readings! (Due to rising covid numbers, masks are warmly encouraged.)

Then in June, we have readings scheduled at the Roasted Granola Café in Arlington on June 16, 2022, and a hometown book celebration set in the beautiful 19th century parlor of the North Adams Public Library on Wednesday June 29th from 5:30-7:30. I am so very excited about this opportunity to celebrate Grace Street with old and new friends and family in a place I cherish.

And finally, one more gem from the joyous journey to Seattle was the opportunity to reunite after 20+ years, with the physician who cared for Kathy at Dana Farber Cancer Center through her bone marrow transplant and follow-up, Dr. Stephanie J. Lee.

Dr. Lee is now a professor and Associate Director of the Clinical Research Division at the world-renowned Fred Hutch Cancer Center in downtown Seattle. As I was writing the book, she generously agreed to do a review of the medical aspects of the story to ensure accuracy, as well as writing an afterword. During our visit to Seattle this month, we met at “the Hutch” as it is fondly referred to, for a visit. It was deeply gratifying to be able to talk for a bit about our experiences during Kathy’s illness, to hear about her current research on graft-versus-host disease, and to talk about the book, which she is now sharing with her own family.

From our discussion:

Question to Dr. Lee: What would you say is the cutting edge of the research on transplant that you see right now?

Dr. Lee: What we are working on is trying to identify how to make sure the transplanted donor cells do what they are supposed to do (make blood cells and a functional immune system and fight the cancers), and how to avoid causing harm to the patient, so that we can optimize the former and mitigate the effects of the latter, in order to continue to make transplantation safer. We’re realizing that there are many types of cells involved, not just the stem cells, and we have much better research tools to understand what is going on.”

There were a few tears shed during our meeting—the “good tears”—and I left with a heart warmed to see that indeed, this brilliant physician and researcher was every bit as humble and caring as I had remembered.  

Thanks as always for the ongoing support and hope to see some of you at some of our upcoming events!  

— Maureen www.maureencallahansmith.com

   

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