Jennifer Lyon

Tuesday, July 21st, 2009
Real Hero

I’ve met many people I would define as hero in my life. Not one of them would call themselves a hero.

 But I will. And I’m going to tell you about one of them today. Her name is Michele Cwiertny.

 I meant Michele years ago when I was co-president of the Orange County Chapter of Romance Writers of America. From the start, I knew there was nothing average about her. She’s intelligent, witty and talented. Trust me, she will be published one day. Michele can come across as quiet. She is often listening instead of talking.

 She is also bitingly funny. She has gotten me in trouble more than once with a softly whispered comment that made me burst out in inappropriate laughter-with tears running down my face. While Michele sits there looking innocent.

 But while that makes her super cool to hang out with, and a good friend, that’s not what makes her a hero.

 A couple years ago, Michele’s brother-in-law, Matt, developed a rare form of lymphoma that was induced by an extremely rare auto-immune disorder. This happened when Matt was in his early twenties. For over two years, this young man has valiantly fought to get well. Matt has done chemo, radiation, endless tests and treatments and a bone marrow transplant. After the transplant, it began to look as if Matt had won.

 Then the lymphoma returned.

 Through all this, Michele has often put her writing (her dream) and personal life on hold to throw herself into learning everything she can about the disease, treatments, the endless red tape-all of it. Not only that, she’s gotten deeply involved in fundraisers, rounding up volunteers to donate blood, platelets, and worked with the family and church to organize a bone marrow registry drive. Whatever she could do, Michel has done it. I am very quickly summoning up two years of work, two years of refusing to ever give up hope, two years of doing anything she could to help not just Matt, but anyone suffering from these terrible blood cancers.

 And now, while Matt is fighting his battle once more, Michele and the family are getting ready to participate in the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s “Light the Night Walk” in August. Michele and the family walked last year in honor of Matt, raising money to help fight all blood cancers. And they are doing it again this year. If you’d like to see more about it, or consider a donation, please go to Michele’s “Let’s Wipe Out Blood Cancer’s Page.”

 Michele defines hero to me. She is fighting for her brother-in-law, whom she loves. She refuses to give up, and she won’t let him give up. That’s amazing enough. But what brings her to hero status? She cares enough to try to find better treatments and a real cure for all people, and she’s taking action, like participating in the “Light the Night Walk.” Michele is a woman making a difference in our world.

 So Michele is my hero today. Who is yours?

6 comments to “Real Hero”

  1. Kira Daniels
    July 21st, 2009 at 11:33 am · Link

    That is so touching. She is a strong woman and I applaud her for stepping up to make a difference.

    One of my hero’s is my step-dad.(Technically not my step-dad anymore- my mom divorced him 13 years ago) He had just married my mom and I knew him hardly at all, when my real dad dropped me off on his front steps on my 13th birthday-my mother was gone as she worked nights. My dad told him that he couldn’t keep me anymore and left me there. My step-dad took me inside dried my tears and stepped up to the plate of raising me through my teenage years. He was one of the biggest positive influences in my life. Positive influences that I sorely lacked up until that time. He is a hero to me because even though he didn’t have to, he accepted me into his life–as did his family. I will never forget or underestimate what he did for me.

  2. Jenn
    July 21st, 2009 at 12:06 pm · Link

    Kira, I love that story! Sounds like your step dad earned the title of Dad in your life. I’m horrified at your bio-dad, but glad that you had a real man in your life to make you feel valued and secure.

    No wonder you write romances!

  3. Michele Cwiertny
    July 21st, 2009 at 1:37 pm · Link

    Jen, I am so touched by this. Thank you. And what a surprise to check your blog and see this post! Wow.

    During this hellish time when all we can do for Matt is stand by his side and cheer him on as he battles this nightmare, my family and I feel a little less helpless by finding a purpose for this. And if we can help other families and friends from having to go through this, then YAY!! We hope we do make a difference. :) And OF COURSE, we couldn’t do any of this with the support of our friends, like YOU… we’re just blown away by the generosity and kindheartedness of friends, family, and even strangers. Thank you again.

    Kira, your step-dad is most definitely a Hero. How wonderful have to such a person in your life.

  4. Jenn
    July 21st, 2009 at 1:52 pm · Link

    Michele, you’re welcome! I just wanted you know that people notice and appreciate you. I’ve seen you doing this for that last couple years (and the family) working so hard because you guys care. You’ve never once asked for anything, never once in any way “used” our friendship, you just keep doing everything you can do. It’s such an inspiriation!

    And it’s a cause I care about. We’ve had one family member who survived lymphomia, and another family member with the chronic form of leukemia.

  5. Kira Daniels
    July 21st, 2009 at 2:43 pm · Link

    Yeah, Jim was a Godsend. He doesn’t realize how big a role he played in my life. I was a handful at times– I think its understood I had a lot of anger issues at that time. I really never had a relationship with my mother (still don’t) but the positive people in my life stand out. I feel the same about my step-mom (not tech. my step mom any more either, lol)

    One more reason I love happy endings. They are like drugs to me. :)

    Michele, don’t underestimate what you do. That is so giving of yourself. Most would just sink in their misery. You’re awesome!

  6. Jenn
    July 21st, 2009 at 6:39 pm · Link

    Kira, I remember you talked about your step-mom once before, I think about Mother’s Day. She sounds like an incredible woman, and Jim sounds like a very special man.

    Romance novels really do give us hope! I love it when families are created by love as much as biology :-)

    Thank you for telling Michele that!

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