Of Tumors and Borders

By Deane Barker tags: society, health

I just watched a great show on Discovery Health called 160 lb. Tumor. It was about a Romanian woman with…wait for it… a 160 lb. tumor.

The problem with these things is that they tend to scavenge resources from the rest of the body. This woman probably weighed 250 lbs., and 160 of that was the tumor. So her heart, her lungs, her digestive system – it was all going to keep this tumor alive. The tumor was stealing her life very slowly.

A Romanian journalist picked up on her story. She got her to London where doctors refused to operate, fearing the woman would die from blood loss. However, they found a doctor at the University of Chicago who had done a similar surgery some years before. They arranged for him to come to Romania and successfully remove the tumor.

Besides the medical procedural, the show was just a great example of how the human condition spans borders. I was struck by this woman’s family – her husband and her son – who felt about their wife and mother like I feel about mine. It just struck me that love for one’s family is a universal condition, regardless of borders or ethnicity.

Additionally, the surgical team that flew in from Boston had no concern or regard for the borders. They were there to save this woman’s life no matter what race she was, what language she spoke, or behind what lines on some map that she lived. I think I finally understand the point behind Doctors Without Borders.

At the risk of starting to hum Kumbaya here, I just suddenly feel like part of the human race, rather than an American or a New Zealander or whatever. We’re all people burdened by the fact that someone drew lines on a piece of paper a long time ago and decreed that Person A was different then Person B for whatever reason.

We’re really not that different, you know.

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