Sunday, November 11, 2007


Whether you are from Sweden, the United States or, unfortunately, anywhere else in the world, you have probably been touched in some way by cancer. This week we take a little break from the normal Linköpinglivin’ playful and serious exploration of Swedish and American culture in order to honor and remember my friend Cristina, who passed away this past week after a courageous six-year dance with cancer.

Cristina Maria Manieri and I were classmates during graduate school at Miami University in Ohio where we received our degrees in Student Affairs in 2001. Just a few months after our long-awaited graduation in May, at the immortal age of 25, Cristina was diagnosed with breast cancer, beginning a six-year odyssey, which left all of us admiring the courage and spirit of someone who could have just given in to the feelings of injustice, loneliness and despair that facing cancer brings.

The reason you choose education as a field of study and profession (which is the quickest definition of “Student Affairs” for the Swedish reader) is not salary or ease of work, but in order to make a difference. Making a difference in individual and community lives is the professional reward and motivation for anyone remotely connected to the education profession. While beginning to make a difference in the lives of the students with whom she worked, Cristina’s impact on this world took a very different, and arguably more powerful, turn when she was diagnosed with cancer. All of her perseverance, energy, stubbornness, devotion and childlike belief that she would overcome this inspired all of us who watched her laugh at disappointing diagnoses or health setbacks.

Over and over again, we as her friends and family would brace ourselves for the end but would soon realize that, to Cristina, this latest challenge was just the beginning. Her spirit was unmatched and will always be remembered by everyone who knew her. It was a privilege during this past week, as Cristina began to go downhill and the end was near, to be able to remind her that this too was just a beginning and that the rest of us were, in eternity’s eyes, just a few steps behind her.

Cristina passed away on Wednesday, November 7 in her hometown of Hopewell, Virginia, surrounded by family.

The next time you have the chance, do something to help us beat cancer once-and-for-all and, in the mean time, make sure those you love know it.

Here's to Cristina.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

A wonderful tribute to an incredible woman, Sean. We have all gained much from knowing her.
Yes, here's to Cristina.