Graham's Corner

Dr. Graham Sher

It all starts with a spark. Sometimes, the idea comes from a television commercial. Other times, it can be as simple as walking by a transit stop and noticing the new poster. You could be driving in your car — one minute listening to the latest pop hit, and the next minute listening to a 30-second spot that reaches into your brain, dusts off a faint reminder of something you’ve been meaning to do, but just haven’t gotten around to yet.

Sometimes, it’s not an idea at all. Sometimes, it’s the late night call that stirs you from a deep sleep — the one at 2 a.m. when you know the news on the other end is not good. It’s a visit to the doctor’s office, where the look on her face lets you know that your entire life is about to change.

By now, many of you have seen the ads and commercials supporting our latest recruitment campaign. Since June 2011, we have been asking Canadians to “rally together to save lives.” We are reminded that one small action can make a big impact on someone’s life.

Suddenly, you know that it takes up to five donors a week to help someone undergoing cancer treatment and up to 50 donors to help someone in a car accident. You might even know one of those “someones,” or even be one yourself. The information is out there, but what does it mean to the store keeper in Moncton, N.B., the pre-school teacher in Kenora, Ontario, or the accountant in Surrey, B.C.?

With a country so geographically dispersed and ethnically diverse, it can sometimes be a wonder that we are able to accomplish everything we set out to do. Yet there are common threads among us that make us intertwined. For as large a country as we are, we are comprised of many communities that separately can seem impenetrable, what with religious, ethnic, socio-economic, or even professional differences. Ever try to tear a telephone book in half? Even though you can easily rip one or a few pages to shreds, the entire phone book has strength in numbers and holds together.

When these same communities share a common element, they can be unstoppable. A case in point: when a member of our community falls ill to leukemia, needs a lung transplant, or requires multiple units of blood due to a car accident, that community becomes larger, more powerful — enough to cut through invisible barriers, stand on common ground and rally together.

The concept is certainly not new. We know that the power of one cannot stand up to the power of many; that as a group, more can be accomplished with relative ease than alone. Our lives have become busier, at times more complex, with demands on our time coming from multiple directions at once. It’s easy to forget those things that once mattered. Until that moment you’re in your car and a lady speaks. She is saying it takes up to two donors a day to help someone undergoing a bone marrow transplant. Sometimes all we need is a spark.