Who Are Your Heroes?

By Andrej Suskavcevic
President and CEO, CHA

It’s hard to watch a news program and not see someone labeled as a hero. Merriam-Webster defines a hero as:  a person who is admired for great or brave acts or fine qualities.

Our military, firefighters, police and average citizens who step in and make a difference are all heroes and deservedly so. I wonder if there are heroes around us that go unnoticed? Ones that didn’t necessarily perform a heroic act, but exhibited a quality that we admire or inspires us.

My kids, on a number of occasions, have given me pause to contemplate aspects of life. How to be a better father, ways I can be a better person. One such time was when my daughter was five and suffered from acute leg pain in both legs that within 24 hours left her unable to walk. After much testing the doctors were baffled. My wife and I had a sobering conversation with a team of doctors and we began the process of elimination as to what it could be. Number one on the list, leukemia. Yeah, the word alone knocks the wind out of you and it did my wife and I that day. The process of elimination required many tests, one of which was drawing blood every couple of hours. Waking a five year old throughout the night to stick a needle in her was really hard on everyone.

One night, her roommate was discharged and they removed the bed from the room leaving a big open space. My daughter contemplated the space and proceeded to get up, put on her slippers and began to “ice skate” around the room pulling the array of tubes she was hooked up to behind her. I asked how bad her leg pain was as she skated and her response was priceless:  “Dad, I’m ice skating, my leg will be fine.”Andrej2

That night I found my hero. In the face of pain she found comfort in the simple act of make believe. I think back to those days when I am having a tough day. I think about what it takes to overcome, to dig deep and not let the challenges of the day consume me. I go ice skating.  We all have our heroes. People that inspire, that show the good life has to offer. I bet that many of our heroes are people we know. I bet you’re someone’s hero as well. Don’t let them down.

P.S. – My daughter’s illness was ultimately found to be a bone infection and after three months of antibiotics she is fine. My thanks to St. Peters University Hospital in New Brunswick, NJ for their amazing care and support.

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