Memories – Read Shared Memories
A Mother’s Perspective – by Margie Wolf
November 5, 2002, a Tuesday, started out as an ordinary day, kids getting out to school, preparing lunches, etc. It was not unusual that the phone rang at 7:25 A.M. and I heard Greg’s voice. He had been studying in London for the fall semester and it was 1:25 P.M. there. I could barely hear him because of the background noise: the streets of London. “Mom! I’m in a cab on my way to the hospital for blood tests. The doctor at the student health center said I could have a minor infection or I could even have leukemia.” My reply was, “That is the most ridiculous thing I have ever heard. I’m not even going to tell Dad that one. He will flip out. Call as soon as you get the blood work done.” Frankly, at that point neither one of us was terribly worried. After all, Greg was 20 years old, the very picture of health. His only symptom was that for the past two weeks, he complained of feeling overly tired. It did not seem that unusual to me for a college student with a full load of classes, taking weekend trips, enjoying the cultural experience, to be a little tired.
George and Greg spoke several times over the next few hours. At about 3:00 P.M. U.S. time, it was as if we were struck by lightning. The blood results showed that Greg had leukemia. My first reaction was that they must be wrong. How could they make such a diagnosis from a simple blood test? By 4:00 P.M. George had booked a flight to London from Newark airport and I was packing a suitcase to be picked up by a driver who would meet him at the airport. Our young son could not be alone on an oncology floor of a hospital with the news of cancer. Our mission was to bring Greg back to the U.S. promptly where he could be treated and cared for. In a matter of hours our lives were turned upside down in ways we could never have imagined. read more
Getting Through it With the Help of G And G – by Ron Levine
In July 2007, I was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. It is a rare form of cancer (only 8,000 new cases a year in the U.S.) in the lymph nodes which is neither hereditary nor is it caused by any known factor, but fortunately is very curable. It is in the same family of cancers as leukemia.
I first discovered that I had the illness while my wife Cindy, our two daughters, and I were on a cruise in July 2007 off the coast of Spain (celebrating our younger daughter’s graduation from Dartmouth and our last tuition payments!). One morning, after a shower, I saw a bump on my neck which I thought might be an insect bite. I went to see the cruise ship doctor. Much to my surprise, the doctor told me to look into the bump when we got home from the cruise since he thought it might be an enlarged node, and possibly cancerous. The skill of that doctor resulted in the diagnosis of the disease at an early stage. Needless to say, it was quite a shock to ultimately learn that I had Hodgkin’s, especially since I was feeling generally fine, and had no real symptoms.
In January 2008 I completed six months of chemotherapy, and am having limited radiation. Since I was fortunate to have an illness which has an over 90+% cure rate which has responded very well to the treatment, my doctors are optimistic. I could not have made the journey which began in July without the support of my wife and family, who have been there for me throughout. In addition, I have a very special place in my heart for friends who have supported me – in ways I may never quite know or understand – most especially G and G.
A Memory from Josh Wirth
I met Greg our sophomore year of college, through one of my fraternity brothers, the two of them were best friends. Our fraternity was a very close knit group, not keen to welcome outsiders by any stretch. But Greg was one of our group. No one ever gave him a hard time, everyone just enjoyed having him around. How could we not. I didn’t get to know Greg well until we studied abroad under the same program our Junior year. “Study” is very misleading term in describing what I and others did that semester. At the age of 20, abroad for the first time in my life and living on dad’s ticket, I mindlessly and quickly fell into a weekly routine of embodying all the bad stereotypes of American boys our age. Not Greg, though. He would shake his head at our stories and look at me with a big smile. But he simply never had any interest in partaking in our nonsense. He didn’t seem to feel any need to have to prove anything to anyone, he didn’t have to be the center of attention; I never consciously thought about it but I considered him someone who just always had things under control. I envied his quiet confidence and strength, although I never would have admitted it then. But just as much as I envied these defining characteristics, I enjoyed being around them. Everyone liked Greg and respected him.
That semester in London was the semester Greg got sick. I remember it took me weeks to acknowledge and think about what was happening. I couldn’t. The idea that he was sick contradicted my understanding of him. I realize now that I had accepted that he was stronger than me, more secure, happier, healthier. When I think about Greg now, I see him exactly as how he always looked, hanging around in our dorms rooms, listening to our stupid stories, smiling, making us laugh with his responses to our stupidity. Many of the characteristics that he embodied, that defined him, as a 20-year old, I still struggle to develop today.
I will never hear a story about Greg’s strength, courage, determination or perception that surprises me. Greg is simply a special person who was destined to touch many people and help them through his strength, poise and steadfastness, these things that most struggle their whole lives to find, that just seemed to come naturally to him. There is nothing that could stop him from touching those people and helping them. If you looked in his eyes, they would tell you that he simply “will not allow that.” I heard his dad say those words at Greg’s annual Fund dinner. Those words personify Greg, perfectly. He continues to prove that today.