Just Dance
by Daksha M. Patel
Trafford Publishing

"He chose to be quiet, spoke few words, and did not tell a soul about how he was helping others."

Rakesh Patel was quietly heroic. Known as Rock, he was an enthusiastic, bright presence who started a dance team at the University of Houston based on Asian folk dance. But at age 20, he began to lose energy, display other symptoms, and was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia or ALL. Supported by a loving, concerned family, including his aunt who is a physician and the author of this reminiscence, he marshaled his energies to send humorous, usually daily tweets. He was in and out of ECU, received chemo for about a year, and, in remission, returned to college, resolving to pursue a career as a physician assistant so that he could help others as he had been helped... with an extra share of empathy. He received comfort from his guru and participated in his brother's wedding, even offering a hilarious toast, despite his weakened condition. He was known for his sometimes anonymous helpfulness and loving nature.

Patel has written Rakesh's story as she lived it, from one crisis after another, at times minute by minute. In the course of his short life, she observed many spiritual characteristics in her nephew. She writes clearly but with passion, contributing her family’s background and her medical knowledge to the happenings up to the time of Rakesh's death and her difficulty in accepting it. She has collected various mementos: a very moving essay written by Rakesh for entry into the PA program, describing his personal, traumatic medical experiences; his cheerful tweets to friends and family; and tributes composed by some of the hundreds of friends at his memorial service. She offers Rakesh as an example of someone who "lived a saint's life in the middle of society and community," and she presents his story as an inspiration for others.

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