Posted by Alex Jofriet on June 03, 2013
This past week I took part in the Cincinnati Take Steps walk for the third year in a row. Each year we design a new shirt as a way to come together as a team. This year’s team shirts were superhero-themed; the team name merged with the superman symbol. Seeing the sea of purple at the walk and all those superhero shirts got me thinking about my heroes and how they have helped me cope with my disease.
What makes someone a hero in my eyes? They need to inspire me. They should make me think beyond what’s normal and make me challenge the status quo. Heroes change the perspective. They do not let limitations stand between them and what they want to do. One of my heroes is Alicia Lang; she lived most of her life with Cystic Fibrosis. She was in the hospital for weeks at a time and half of her lifetime. Yet she always had a smile on her face and did not let her disease stop her from helping others. I met her at the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Patient Advisory Council. She would roll into our meetings every month and you could not help but feel her presence in the room. Now the PAC meetings feel emptier without her smile. She lost her battle with Cystic Fibrosis, but her influence lives on. She taught me that the tough times are the best times; it is a time for kindness, a time to step it up a notch, a time to smile, and a time to be a hero.
Heroes also inspire. Jennie David and Sami Kennedy are two other inspirational heroes. They inspire others by spreading their story. They help others through their own fight by sharing their experiences; sometimes this is with humor (sharing opinions on what toilet paper is the best), other times sharing their experiences while going to college. They have set high expectations for themselves and have made a lifelong goal of helping others with IBD. They have taught me that I can talk about poop as much as I want to, and that no matter how high the goal I can achieve. They have taught me that, despite my Crohn’s disease, going to medical school is not out of the question; and that I am not going to accept anything less than a life as a pediatric gastroenterologist.
So why this blog about my heroes? Heroes are everywhere. They can be your Mom or your Dad, they could be someone that helps you at school or someone that you meet through circumstances that bring you together to fight a common cause. In this virtual world, they could be a person you’ve not met face to face, but you admire from afar. Heroes are people you can look up to and can help you get through any situation. For me, when times are tough, I just think about all the people I know, my heroes, and those who may have it worse than me. I think about their situations, the experiences that they have shared, and I am thankful and mindful that my situation could be a whole lot worse. Every night I go to bed listening to Zach Sobiech’s song, Clouds, and I think to myself how I can live the next day to the fullest. How can I be a hero?
Everyone needs a hero so go out and find one. The hero you have always been looking for could be right in front of you.