Me, Old Friends & Haiti

by Mike Geniella, January 20, 2010

I’m upset. Good friends are in trouble, and there’s little I can do but “be there” for them.

Damn, don’t you hate that term? I don’t want to “be there” for them, I want to make things better. A lot better.

My friends are a great couple. They met after difficult first marriages. Individually each had experienced enough turmoil to last a lifetime. But as a couple, they succeeded in creating a new life healthier and happier than any of us could have imagined. Their blended families thrived, as they did.

All of us were shaken four years ago when the wife was diagnosed with breast cancer. Treatment appeared successful but then the cancer came back. She fought again, and survived. Soon she was back on the ski slopes and hiking trails, looking as pretty and healthy as ever. We breathed a deep sigh of relief, and thanked our higher power.

Then on Monday the bombshell.

She’s been diagnosed with lung cancer.

Her husband describes the situation best in a note they’ve shared with shocked friends:

“Like you, we've wondered how a woman who has never smoked and has taken good care of herself all her life can get lung cancer. The answers we have received haven't been very helpful or comforting, ranging from, "It happens" to, "Maybe it's some kind of genetic predisposition." In short, it's a mystery, a piece of lousy luck and apparently unrelated to the breast cancer history.”

Lousy luck? Maybe so. But I’m pissed. My friends don’t deserve this. They’re good people.

They’ve suffered enough.

I find myself ranting and raving about the injustice of it all until I exhaust myself. Then I reread my buddy’s note.

“Meanwhile, we'll continue to keep our positive outlook - a task made easier knowing that we have the friendship and support of all of you. We thank you for your prayers, healing thoughts, crossed fingers or whatever good vibrations you choose to send our way, and we look forward to seeing you or talking to you in the near future.”

His wife’s own assurances humble me.

“In spite of this disheartening news, I remain optimistic about my future. Should you be tempted to send flowers or gifts, I ask that you instead direct any spare dollars you may have to the relief efforts in Haiti, where that tragedy has given me some perspective on my situation and helped me to realize that in the scope of things, I am incredibly blessed with a wonderful spouse and children, great family and friends, and all that I could ever need or want in life.”

I’m still bummed despite the soothing words. Yet I know I too am incredibly blessed, as we all are.

So I'm going to do what I can do. I’m donating to a Haiti relief fund in my friends’ names.

Here are links to legitimate Haiti relief funds:

International Red Cross or text “Haiti” to 90999.

Doctors Without Borders

Oxfam America

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