20 November 2007

For the Holidays, Do Something Good

Everyone says the holiday season is about giving. Unfortunately, too often that “giving” comes in the form of rampant consumerism and guilt-fueled trips to the mall to spend too much money on something that nobody needs just so you won’t look like a jerk. In her 1850 book “The First Christmas in New England,” Harriet Beecher Stowe had a character who complained that the true meaning of Christmas was being lost in a shopping spree. So… at least our helplessness in the face of holiday consumerism isn’t anything new.

For me, the only way to keep a hold of the “true meaning of Christmas” is to give – not socks and ugly ties, but time, money, caring – to those who really need help. In my ideal world, we’d sit around the tree on Christmas morning and share pictures and stories of the people (and animals!) we’ve helped in the names of our loved ones.

If you believe that the holiday season really is (or should be) about giving, please take a few minutes of your time to read the following letter from Posey Gruener, a friend of mine from college.

Dear friends,

My friend Ibby Caputo is fighting Leukemia. Three months ago, she got an infection that wouldn't go away. She went to the hospital, and she's been there ever since. She's been through chemo twice. She's 26 years old.

One week after Thanksgiving, Ibby will get a bone marrow transplant from an anonymous European donor. From now until the transplant date—November 29—I will be running a fundraiser to help pay for her recovery, and will match any donations, dollar-for-dollar, up to a total of $3,000.

If no one donates anything, I will (reluctantly) donate nothing. But if we work together, $1 will become $2, $35 will become $70, $80 will become $160—all the way up to $6,000. Together, we could raise enough to pay for the crucial first two months of recovery.

Please visit ibbycaputo.com to donate online or by check, use your credit or debit card to donate online, and email me at poseygruener@gmail.com letting me know you've done so. To learn more about Ibby and how your donation will be used, read on.

Thank you,


From Ibby:

"I'm back in the hospital again. Same floor, smaller room. I don't like it here. The last two rounds of chemo didn't put me into remission, so I'm back for something more heavy duty. It's going to hurt. Then comes the bone marrow transplant soon after. I signed the consent forms for that today.

The numbers are stacked against me. This strain of this disease is one that 60-year-old men usually get after having spent a lifetime working in a benzene factory. I grew up in the suburbs of New Jersey.

But. But! Somewhere in Europe there is a 39-year-old man who is my perfect donor match. We share 12 out of 12 chromosomes, only his aren't malfunctioning. On the day after Thanksgiving, I'm scheduled to start "conditioning" for the transplant. A week later, someone from this hospital is going to fly to Europe, pick up two bags of this man's stem cells, then travel back with them in an ice cooler underneath the seat of a commercial airline. The stem cell infusion date – my re-birthday - is set for November 29th.

The positive energy is stacked for me, though. This is why, the other night, my cousin and I wrote the cure rate percentages on a heart-shaped piece of paper, then took it into an alley and burned it. We decided those numbers are no longer applicable."

Posey again:

When all of this is over, the real fight begins.

After the transplant, the stem cells of this European man will work their way into Ibby's marrow and on to the rest of her. They will kill Ibby's leukemia cells. They will not (we hope) kill too many of Ibby's other cells. They will make themselves at home among Ibby's other organs. And, if all goes right, that will be it. She will be well.

If anything goes wrong—and that's likely—Ibby could develop infections, pneumonia, organ failure, or the awful, space-alien-sounding disease called Graft-Versus-Host.

To keep that from happening, Ibby has to lay low. Real low. For a year. She'll need to stay away from sources of stress or infection. She'll need to get lots of rest, and she'll need constant care. She'll need to pay for rent, and groceries, and a caretaker. And she won't be able to work.

This is where we come in. Because though we may not know how to treat Leukemia, though we may not even know Ibby, we've got what she needs most right now. By helping her pay for life's necessities, we can give her the ability to lay low, to avoid stress, to heal.

I'll be running a fundraising drive through Thanksgiving and up until November 29th—the day of Ibby's transplant—and I hope you'll find a minute or two to donate before then. I will match all donations dollar for dollar, up to $3,000. Together, we can provide for the crucial first two months of Ibby's recovery, and send her into the next phase knowing she'll be cared for.

To donate, just visit ibbycaputo.com, use your credit or debit card to donate online, and send me an email (poseygruener@gmail.com) letting me know you've done so. I'll be presenting my half of the pledge (which I hope will be a big half) on November 30th—the first day of Ibby's new existence as half-european, half-american, half-man, half-woman, and the first day (we hope, we hope) of the rest of her very long life.

Thank you,


Posey has nine days to raise $3,000. Her goal is to raise at least $315/day. She will match every dollar that we donate. Take a moment out of your day to check out Ibby’s website and help make a difference for someone who could really use a miracle this year.

And on Thursday, remember to give thanks for the things that truly matter: health, family, and friends like Posey Gruener.

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