Friday, January 15, 2010


When I was a little girl one of my favorite words was googleplex (the largest number possible). Now, of course the word Google is on the minds of anyone who uses the internet.  Last night I attended a workshop on "Google Analytics" geared towards helping Loop create a website that people can actually find.

It was a tough night for me, I was tired from radiation earlier in the day, and the workshop was held at the headquarters of Newsday, a newspaper on Long Island, near where I used to be a television reporter. The long drive also gave me a chance to listen to the radio and really focus on the news out of Haiti.

I will let you in on a secret. Like cops, social workers, and paramedics, reporters learn to detach, and prevent most stories from hitting our emotions. It is really the only way to get your work done in an objective, professional manner. Cancer and 5 months off the job has broken my filter down. I am now far more empathetic to the suffering of others.

The New York area has thousands of Haitians, people who are part of my daily life. One of the workers at my garage was on the phone with his relatives when the quake hit, and had the line go dead. All of a sudden what had been a horrifying statistic was a personal story.

It is similar with breast cancer.
  -According to ACS, last year around 192,370 American women were diagnosed.
  -That number is about the same as the populations of Mobile, Alabama, Knoxville, Tennessee or Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. A city of women became cancer patients last year.
 - The number of women who died was about 40,170.
 -Imagine losing nearly every person in Hoboken, New Jersey, Hagerstown, Maryland, or York, Pennsylvania.

This is not to compare our suffering to that of the people in Haiti. We have hospitals to go to, they need medical care desperately. Perhaps at some point, we can even connect with women who have breast cancer there and see what we can do to help.
However in both situations, while the numbers may not quite be a googleplex, they are difficult to really imagine, knowing each digit represents a fellow human.

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