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Issues of the Day Something Like Peace

I don’t know quite how to describe a four-day conference I attended outside of Barcelona this past week (Sept. 12-16, 2012). This was my third year as a representative of the Israel Pulmonary Hypertension Association (PHA Israel)  to the European PHA  annual meeting, a gathering of patient associations leaders from more than twenty countries. We advance an agenda aimed at improving screening and diagnostics, therapies and accessibility to treatment for a disease that most of us know either as patients or caregivers.

Pulmonary hypertension
is a crippling illness that is still not well understood and that can, at best, be managed and rarely cured.

I left Casteldefells, a small town on the Mediterranean, in the wee hours of Saturday night just ahead of the conference’s conclusion in order to catch two flights so that I could get home in time to celebrate Rosh HaShanah, Jewish New Years, with my family and community back in Israel.  


Rosh HaShanah is the first of the Days of Awe, the holy season in which Jews in Israel around the time engage in introspection and soul-searching. We beseech the Creator for a good year -- for ourselves, our families, our people and the world as a whole. We also utter prayers for peace and the welfare of others. As I sat in synagogue over the past two days, my mind frequently went back to the dear people I gathered with in Casteldefells. They were in my heart and thoughts.


 Between the lectures by top medical specialists, healthcare professionals and organizers and our deliberations, I was able to catch up with the lives of people I have come to know from our previous meetings and who have become dear friends.

Over meals or during outings, I also encountered new members of our association who either as patients, family members, or advocates have made common cause to improve the lives of PH sufferers and dare to dream of a cure for the disease, which I know from my own bout with it can take your very breath away. It has also killed people I have known and cared about.


Although we come from many different traditions and lands and sometimes struggle to overcome the challenges posed by the assorted languages we speak, those who gather for the European PH meeting are dedicated to each other and to improving the lives of patients and their families.


Each of us are involved in maintaining PH associations in our countries and the decisions we make and the information we receive at the international gathering spread out over a widening circle to ameliorate the lives of those who have been affected by the disease.


This congregation of caring and giving spreads hope and goodness. Aside from the impact we hope in alleviating the lives of others who live with the disease, our efforts extend even further. It is an example of what I imagine the prophets of light of all faiths and convictions had in mind in hoping for the betterment of humanity. It resonates, I would say, something like peace. 

© Yosef Gotlieb, . All rights reserved