I have never wanted to use connections. As an adolescent and young adult, I stupidly refused my parents’ help at every turn. “I want to do it myself!” I lived in China in the 80s, where “pulling connections” is ingrained in the culture, yet it didn’t rub off. “That’s fine for you, a nation of one billion, but I want to do it myself.” Breast cancer has a way knocking the arrogance out of you, and also of making you marvel at how one thing leads to another.
I have a friend from Grace Chruch Brooklyn Heights. She unfortunately had breast cancer a couple years ago, she led me to my doc at NYU.
I had a pal when I was studying at Peking University in the mid 1980s. She went on to become a liver transplant surgeon, to write a wonderful book, “Final Exam,” about how doctors deal with mortality. She knew some surgeons at Sloan Kettering, which is, with NYU, one of the preeminent cancer centers in the world. They knew some other surgeons, who recommended the breast surgeon at Sloan Kettering who’s seeing me for a second opinon tomorrow.
My oldest and dearest childhood friend has an old pal, who worked for years at the University of California San Francisco Breast Center. Since I’m moving to San Francisco in the middle of all this, her friend offered to recommend a doctor at the UCSF Breast Center. That surgeon, it turns out, trained with the Sloan Kettering surgeon. She also read my liver surgeon friend’s book and loved it. She called this afternoon, to tell me that she had already heard from the NYU doc, and that she would schedule an OR for me as soon as I meet with her old Sloan Kettering attending tomorrow.
I am stunned, and so grateful. Everything is connected. How could I have missed that for all these years?