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?