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Forum, Feb. 11: Community success is up to all of us


Sunday, February 10, 2019
Community success is up to all of us

I recently came to the somewhat uncomfortable conclusion that, much as I enjoy writing the occasional letter to our regional newspaper, such activity is perhaps not the full measure of civic engagement that I might be capable of, and therefore I ought to explore more robust ways of contributing to the community. And it was a sad truth I had to acknowledge — shopping at Listen, while fruitful and fun, didn’t really count toward that robustness.

So I explored the city of Lebanon’s website (lebanonnh.gov) and found there might be a place even for someone like me, without formal professional qualifications or expertise, to contribute. Government, after all, is an “us” and not a “them,” and every person’s perspective adds something to the general discourse.

So consider this a public service announcement: It’s a straightforward and not onerous process to apply to serve, the time demands upon any individual are not excessive, and you needn’t feel yourself to be someone important in order to have something important to say.

The health, well-being and success of our community is up to every single one of us to strive for, and not gifts to be mysteriously delivered to our figurative stockings. It’s from the ground up that we can help fix so much of what’s ailing us now in the public sphere, and every first step does actually mean that you’ve truly begun to get somewhere.

SARAH CRYSL AKHTAR

Lebanon

Support from an unexpected place

I am writing to say, “Thank you.”

How is this for irony: I am a cancer physician at the Norris Cotton Cancer Center, where I’ve given chemotherapy to hundreds of patients since 1994. Last year, I developed a form of bone marrow cancer called myelodysplastic syndrome. I hung up my white coat, put on a hospital gown, and started getting chemotherapy myself. I spent July inside Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center getting a blood stem cell transplant, along with chemotherapy powerful enough to wipe out my old diseased bone marrow.

Sound nasty? It is. This treatment must push a body to the brink if it’s to be successful. I’ve always told my patients what awful side effects cancer treatment will bring, and I tell it straight. But no amount of intellectual understanding can really prepare you for what it feels like: the intense burning of the mouth and esophagus, the tree-trunk swelling of the legs, the bowels that refuse to cooperate, the crushing fatigue that makes a 100-foot walk feel like an ascent of Mount Washington.

How does a person get through this? Start with expert medical care. Our hematology team is as good as you’ll find anywhere on the planet. Add nurses in the bone marrow unit who see to every last detail with compassion and unflagging good humor. Mix in friends and colleagues who bend over backward to help at home and at work, and family who are there through thick and thin.

What I was not anticipating was the powerful outpouring of support from my patients — cards, letters, phone calls, chocolate, hugs, you name it. People with their own struggles with cancer worried about their doctor! “Heartwarming” isn’t a strong enough word for the real, positive energy conveyed. “Lifeboat” gets closer. I can’t explain the physiology, but I’m still floating. Thank you all.

When cancer is diagnosed, patients’ friends often don’t know what to say and distance themselves. Don’t. Call, send a card, send a text. “Thinking of you” is as profound as you need to be. It helps immensely.

THOMAS H. DAVIS

Norwich

Meet the Norwich candidates

A forum for candidates running for the Norwich Selectboard will be held in the Community Room in Tracy Hall on Tuesday, from 7-8:30 p.m. The candidates running for the two-year seat are John Langhus and Doug Wilberding. The candidates for the three-year seat are Linda Cook and Roger Arnold.

This forum provides a way for candidates to present their own statements and to answer questions from the audience. Please come to this meeting, sponsored by the Norwich Women’s Club, to meet this year’s candidates.

Margo Doscher

Norwich

Values are the best qualifications

Recently, former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean said the Democrats should select their next candidate for president of the United States based primarily on age — specifically, around age 50.

I could not disagree more. It should not make a difference whether the candidate is 35 or 80. We would be better off selecting our next president based on values. To me, this is just as important as the candidate’s experience.

We should have learned from our current president that those who lack values such as compassion, empathy, listening to understand and reaching across the aisle to find commonalities are necessary qualities in our leaders. Our current president says he’s a Christian, but lacks all of these values. To make it worse, those he has chosen for his inner circle lack them, as well.

So let’s not rule someone out just because of age. If a candidate possesses the values we need in a leader and is willing and able to attract others with similar values, then that is the person we should elect as president of the United States. Age is not important.

JOHN ENNIS

Bethel