It is said that a single photo can tell a story better than a thousand words. In our day and age each smart phone contains millions of photos and often people have innumerable words to add to them. Ten years ago times were different and much simpler. We worked hard and took the rare selfies (or maybe none at all). So this single photograph of me in the white coat, in the middle of a working day, is the only picture I have from a year of major significance in the way my life has since developed.
I remember vividly the day this picture was taken. It was 2002. I was only 19 years old, working proudly as a “Sherut Leumi” (National Service) program girl in the Bone Marrow Department of Hadassah Hospital Ein Kerem. Already then I was quite a gifted little chatterbox, a quality which came in handy in making new friendships and communicating freely with patients.
Etan, a young photographer, was a cancer patient on our ward. He was scheduled to undergo a bone marrow transplant from a donor. One day he came for his treatment to the clinic fully equipped with his professional camera and snapped some spontaneous photos of the staff hard at work. The next time we saw him he gave us each a photo as a souvenir. I did not see Etan again, but I treasured the photo.
Ten years passed between the time I served in the Bone Marrow Department and when I became a cancer patient on the same ward myself. Undergoing a transplant, I, too, was assisted by the “Sherut Leumi” girl serving the ward that year. All smiles, busy busy, she helped all the patients who needed her services just as I did when I was her age.
During one of my routine checkups at the clinic, while I was waiting for my turn to see the doctor, a young healthy looking man sat down by my side. “I hope I’ll be looking as healthy one day,” I thought to myself. I took one more glance at the young man and realized it was none other than Etan. The very same Etan who had taken a photo of me so many years before. My heart was jumping from excitement to see him looking so healthy and strong! This sight filled me with hope. Surprisingly, I felt too shy to approach the man I remembered so well, but there was no need as he beat me to it.
“Are you new here”? he asked.
“Yes. I mean No. Sort of…”? I was not sure what to answer. “You took a picture of me ten years ago,” I suddenly blurted out of context.
“I am a photographer,” he answered. “When did I take your photo”?
I couldn’t hold myself back from asking: “Did you undergo a bone marrow transplant ten years ago?”
In utter shock, he answered: “Exactly ten years ago I received my new bone marrow AND my life back.” He continued on, telling me his story in detail, when he suddenly stopped and asked: “But how do YOU know me”??? On we went, chatting away as I retold my side of the story, now on very mutual grounds, giving each other strength and hope to continue believing life is worth fighting for.
And so, as it turns out, a picture in Hadassah is worth more than a thousand words.