“I’m new here.” I’ve been saying that a lot recently.
But I am new. I am new to Hawai’i and new to the American Cancer Society. My wife and I moved to Honolulu from Chicago in September 2013. This was something we had thought about doing for some time and last summer we felt the time was right. We often have to remind ourselves that we aren’t on vacation. We don’t have to pack up and go home. We are home. And while leaving old friends in Chicago was bittersweet; making a new home and new friends in Hawai’i has been even sweeter.
Shortly after arriving in Hawai’i, I had the opportunity to come and work with the American Cancer Society; another new adventure for me. It has been three months since I joined and it has thus far been an amazing experience. The kindness and generosity of the staff and volunteers has been incredible. I see it in how they work with patients, volunteers and each other. Their energy and commitment is contagious. When people ask me what I like most about living in Hawai’i my answer is undoubtedly the friendliness and welcoming spirit of the people (although the ocean is close second).
What you should also know about me is that I am the proud son of a cancer survivor. My mother was diagnosed with breast cancer just over twelve years ago. I called my mother back in Indiana when I got the job at the Society…she was over the moon. And then she told me a story I did not know. When she was first diagnosed with breast cancer, she did three things. “I called my sisters, then I cried, then I Googled cancer”. And that is how she found the American Cancer Society. She is now ten years cancer free and just celebrated her birthday (and no, I won’t say which one). And as she said, “I found the American Cancer Society when I needed them and now they have found my son.”
So while I may be new to the Society, it turns out the Society is not new to me. In fact it played a very important role in my mother’s life and thus mine. They gave her comfort and education when she needed it most. For that I will be eternally grateful.
Yes, I am new in many ways. I may not pronounce all the street names correctly yet or know which way is mauka or which way is makai all the time, I am getting there. And in a sense I was drawn to be right here; to be in Hawai’i, to join the American Cancer Society and to help Finish the Fight.