With my 69th birthday just a couple of days away, I have learned that I am a hero.
Apparently, some people consider me a hero just because of something I am doing, something they consider heroic in and of itself.
A group called HUAC has dubbed me a hero. Those initials do NOT stand for the House Unamerican Activities Committee, that witch hunt group led in the dark 1950s by Senator Joe McCarthy.
It stands for Hearts United Against Cancer. This 501(c)(3) non-profit organization is headquartered in Glassboro, even though it has a ubiquitous Sewell post office box address.
Founded by cancer survivor Beth Elwood, Hearts delivers care and comfort bundles to men, women and children who are undergoing any kind of treatment for cancer — and these days, that includes me.
Last week, I was sitting in a recliner in the Infusion Center — the room where chemo and similar treatments are administered — at the MDAnderson at Cooper cancer center, at the Voorhees campus.
I was talking to Maryann, a woman who had been through breast cancer surgery and treatment and was now getting preventive medications, and Michelle, a young woman with colon cancer, when Beth and her small posse arrived, bearing gifts. Pulling items from oversized tote bags, they were delivering handmade blankets in plastic packages, which also included a bookmark and, in my case, a rubber band bracelet which matched the colors of my camouflage-and-black lap blanket. Oh, and a package of Oreo cookies, too.
No one before has given me anything just because I have cancer. I was moved that they consider me a Cancer Hero.
Despite my long affiliation with members of the military, I have never actually owned anything with the camo pattern. The blanket isn’t any kind of strict camouflage, but that was its intention, I think. I guess they chose to give this blanket to me because they figured camo and my rugged appearance would go together.
These days — and I’m not sure if it’s just my age or my cancer — I seem to feel the cold a lot. I know this comes as quite a surprise to those of you who have seen me sweat, or those who have worked with me over the years as they froze in the newsroom and I wore short-sleeved Hawaiian shirts and felt comfortable.
Whatever the reason for my current coldness, this Hearts United Against Cancer fleece blanket is very warm and I really appreciate it on chilly mornings.
I am most grateful for the kindness of this organization. I recommend giving them any assistance you can. (Bob Shryock and I once raised $13,000 for the American Cancer Society in one night and I’m hoping that translates into good karma for me now.)
You can check out Hearts United Against Cancer online at http://www.heartsunitedagainstcancer.org. They’re also on Facebook.
And you can send them donations at P.O. Box 443, Sewell, NJ 08080.
Tell them I sent you and that, thanks to them, I’m staying toasty!