One Life: What One Person can do to Change the Course of History

Over the course of my father’s career as a hematologic oncologist at @NYULangoneMedicalCenter, he has always shared highlights about his wide-ranging experiences in medicine: from news about the most interesting discovery, insights about the latest innovation, and interesting facts about the diseases he was treating, to his own interpretations of medical stories in the news, and most of all, to his professional and personal interactions with patients, students, and colleagues-doctors, nurses, lab workers, fundraisers, office administrators, and more. Many of those patients and colleagues – and their families – also became part of our extended family and a very familiar part of daily life whether it was on the phone taking messages on his behalf or seeing them at office/medical center visits and social functions, and even on special occasion dinners, performances, sporting events, and vacations to the Cape, the Jersey Shore, and the Adirondacks.

When I was in my early teens, my dad would share a little bit about interactions with one colleague in particular who also happened to be his long-time office-mate. I remember him talking about a new disease that was appearing in patients of theirs (though mostly hers, as this was her specialty) everywhere, in exponentially escalating numbers, which were also very quickly becoming beyond control. That colleague of his was also a pioneering researcher, who co-authored/co-published the first paper, identifying that disease. Thanks to this colleague of my dad’s, and the diligent research and innovation of medical professionals like her, along with leadership and support from Presidents Clinton and Bush 43, tireless advocates like Bono and his organization @RED, and other leading organizations such as @amfAR The Foundation for AIDS Research, the world has changed, and made so many incredible strides in the treatment of that disease. It is amazing to see what just one person did that began to manifest itself while she was alive, and how that work has manifested exponentially since she left this world at the way-too-young age of 45.

I am grateful to have known her at all, honored to say I did, and blessed to live in a world where her legacy continues this tireless fight. My dad’s colleague lived with a lifelong stigma of her own, and worked on behalf of others with a different type of stigma. But stigma is the same regardless of the source, and her stigma was something she was able to parlay quite easily into her work with these early patients who were very unfairly stigmatized, not as much because of the disease itself, but for their supposed choice of lifestyle. No one should ever live with stigma of any kind, and this doctor set the tone for treatment – medically and personally – at the outset. On #WorldAIDSDay and #GivingTuesday, this woman’s legacy is very worth sharing, not only to continue to fight for those lives who continue to suffer and/or face suffering, but also for those facing any stigma at all –whether it’s physical or mental illness, a physical or mental disability, man or woman, race or color, religion or atheist, single/divorced/married, adult or child, parent or aspiring parent or someone who chooses to not have any children at all, political affiliation, personal tastes in music, clothes, art, food, home, and yes – lifestyle. Stigma is a disease unto itself, and is something that not only pervades society and perpetuates our social ills, but alienates people from the human race. When disease becomes stigma, it alienates those people further from people when they need them the most. Celebration of our differences and what each person in this world has to offer is what makes this world and life so interesting and dynamic. Every individual on this planet has the right to life and to humane treatment – regardless of differences and any disease – and should be treated with compassion and dignity, most of all when they are in pain and in need. This is the time when “brothers and sisters” are called upon to carry each other through some of that pain rather than turn a blind eye or worse, rub salt in the wound.

That colleague of my father’s lived her life in a wheelchair because of polio. Despite this tremendous disability, she became a very successful doctor, who left a legacy that will endure not only well beyond her lifetime, but through the incredible strides that have been made and continue to be made in the treatment of this disease, the tireless advocacy of everyday heroes with unsung names like hers, as well as those heroes like Bono. Mr. Paul Hewson – or to reference him with his world famous moniker, Bono – has done so much more than lent his name, but devoted his life’s work to and through his music which we sing and dance to every day – to this disease. I wish he could have known her, as she is one of those heroes we don’t encounter every day. The countless people affected by this disease then, now, and in the future have all been touched by her work in one way or another. #What1PersonCanDo not only saves lives, but changes the world.

In the spirit of the U2 song ONE, #What1PersonCanDo, and #U2MinusOne: @U2 could never be U2 without @Bono, and Bono could not be U2 without @theEdge, @LarryMullen, and @AdamClayton. U2 is Bono, and Bono is U2. The man is the band; the band is the man. But the band he and they have created is not only their music, but something bigger than themselves, something bigger than the entire catalogue of Rock and Roll Hall of Fame musicians on one stage, even including (now, as a lifelong E Street girl, this is tough even for me to say out loud!) – yes – Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band! What is extraordinary about #U2MINUSOne, is that Bono’s spirit is so larger-than-life that it could never be replaced by someone else – not even by his longtime pal and fellow @RockandRollHallofFame-r, Mr. Springsteen, his soon-to-be-fellow-Hall-of-Famer @Coldplay’s Chris Martin. They, along with @CarrieUnderwood and @KanyeWest, rose to the occasion and paid tribute to Bono and U2 by being torchbearers to the cause, using their names and talents because of something bigger than themselves. They believe in Bono and U2, they believe in their music and their message, they believe in the cause, they believe in the power of the human spirit, and yes – they believe in music to heal, to move people toward something bigger than themselves, to “move brothers and sisters to carry each other.”

Like Bono, this fight is never “minus one” because this doctor is no longer here, or because of all of the casualties this disease has left in its wake. It is a fight and a cause that has new names and faces added to it every day. It is an extraordinary band, a collective of people who have come together for a cause that has taken on a life of its own. That band has come together as Bono sings, “One. Brothers and sisters who carry each other.” That is the power of the human spirit, and the power of what one person can do to create a song, sing it, and use that song to have everyone sing the same tune, carrying each other through it, producing one resounding, glorious and triumphant symphony for lifetimes to come.

That Doctor is @Julia Roberts’ character in the HBO film, developed from the Broadway play, by
@LarryKramer, #ANormalHeart.

That Doctor’s name was #DrLindaLaubenstein. That disease is ‪#‎AIDS‬‬.



U2 photo

A Red Thank You


Is it getting better

Or do you feel the same

Will it make it easier on you now

You got someone to blame

You say…
One love

One life

When it’s one need
In the night

One love

We get to share it

Leaves you baby if you
Don’t care for it
Did I disappoint you

Or leave a bad taste in your mouth

You act like you never had love

And you want me to go without

Well it’s…
Too late

To drag the past out into the light

We’re one, but we’re not the same

We get to

Carry each other.
Carry each other
. One…
Have you come here for forgiveness

Have you come to raise the dead

Have you come here to play Jesus

To the lepers in your head
Did I ask too much

More than a lot
You gave me nothing

Now it’s all I got
We’re one

But we’re not the same

Well we
Hurt each other

Then we do it again

You say
Love is a temple

Love a higher law

Love is a temple

Love the higher law

You ask me to enter

But then you make me crawl

And I can’t be holding on
To what you got

When all you got is hurt
One love.
One blood.
One life.

You got to do what you should
One life

With each other

. One life.
But we’re not the same.

We get to
Carry each other
. Carry each other

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