Jennifer Goodman Linn You Fearless

Farewell to a Friend

Michael Thaler,  1965-2008
I found out just the other day that someone who greatly impacted my life had passed away. Michael and I did not know each other "well" in the way that people often define friendships;
 - We met each other only one time
 - We spent less than 20 hours together in total over the course of a few days together
And I couldn't even guess as to what his favorite color was, where he went to school etc.
However, I have learned that you can call someone "friend" by connecting with them on a deeper level - if only for a short time.  
Michael also suffered from a rare form of cancer.  We both had our surgeries at MSCKCC in July, 2007.  We wound up spending the better part of the recovery phase of our surgeries "walking the halls" and sharing stories about what we had learned from our disease.
Michael had an amazing spirit and a beautiful outlook on life.  I will miss him dearly.
What follows is a blog entry that Michael had written after we met each other last July:
I got home from the hospital about an hour ago (it's now about 2:30 p.m. Saturday), and boy, is it great to be back amid familiar sights, sounds and smells (remember, I have two cats).


The doctors were impressed by the absence of lingering effects from the surgery and agreed with my entreaties that home is where I should be.


The surgery itself wasn't as successful as was hoped for, in that my serum calcium level didn't drop as far as my surgeon and his team would have liked. But the level came down just the same, and we're hoping it will continue. I'm to report back for tests in a week's time.


I was operated on at Memorial-Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in Manhattan, and the level of care, compassion and empathy were incredible. ("Yeah, just wait till you get the bill," joked my roommate.)


But, joking aside, I was made to feel like a person, not a number or a statistic, by every staff member I met, and the activities and diversions they provide for patients are as impressive as they are broad.


But the highlight of my hospital experience was meeting a remarkable, courageous and inspiring woman, Jen Goodman Linn, and her equally friendly and gracious husband, Dave.


I was walking the corridor Friday morning for exercise when I heard a voice behind me say, "You're walking pretty fast."


I turned around and this charming woman was there. We did laps around the hallway together and learned about our respective situations.


Jen, too, is battling a rare cancer, and her fight inspired her in January to host, with her husband, a fund-raising event at a downtown Manhattan gym to raise money for Sloan Kettering. The event, during which individual riders and teams rode long stints on stationary bicycles, raised over $800,000 in the past two years. The couple plan to make it an annual event, and I'm on board for this January.


I mentioned to Jen that I believe the encounters we have with others really aren't random, in my opinion. We meet the people we meet for a good reason, sometimes evident, sometimes not.


The bottom line is, we're all confronting and enjoying and sometimes battling life together. We can choose to do it together or alone.

I've chosen togetherness