By: Madigan McKeough

As COVID-19 keeps us in quarantine and social distancing from loved ones, it seems that bad news has been amplified. In times like these, it’s hard to remember that kindness is still so present in our everyday lives. Before the quarantine, those reminders took the shape of someone opening a door for a stranger, shoveling a neighbor’s driveway, bringing lunch in for the office or having a nice chat with your Lyft driver. These small reminders of kindness still remain, but they look a little different.

At Imerman Angels, we are reminded of how powerful, important and kind our Mentor Angels are. Not only by giving their time and listening ears but also by sharing their stories.

In 2014, Mia Aronson was diagnosed with T-Cell Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia, T-ALL, and her life shifted from being a working mother and wife to having daily chemotherapy treatments and two years of outpatient treatment. 

“I reached out to Imerman Angels within a week of getting home from the hospital after my induction therapy and had a Mentor Angel within three days. My Mentor Angel was a lifesaver for many, many reasons.”  Mia says.  “T-ALL is a relatively rare diagnosis for adults; there wasn’t a large support network.  It was incredibly helpful for me to have a Mentor who was/is in a similar place in her life.”

After her experience as a Mentee, Mia became a Mentor Angel in 2016 and has had five Mentees since then. Mia says, “Cancer treatment isn’t just about the physical.”  She remembers how impactful it was to have someone who she could speak with freely, without judgment, and get the simple and comforting reply, “I know where you’re coming from!” in a time that is filled with uncertainty.

As a Mentor Angel, she tries to always be patient, listen, and not judge. “Everyone has a different experience.” says Mia. “Being a Mentor is difficult and rewarding. It’s never easy to relive a painful experience, and that sometimes happens as questions come up. However, I think back to how much it meant to me to have someone support me and answer my questions, which makes it 100% worthwhile.” 

It’s Mentors like Mia that remind us that a judgment-free listening ear can be a small act of kindness that truly can make all the difference. 

Brad Aronson, Mia’s husband, recently published his book, HumanKind: Changing the World One Small Act At a Time, inspired by a conference for young adult cancer patients, survivors, and caregivers. Suleika Jaouad, the keynote speaker, spoke about her cancer experience as well as her 100 Day Project. She set a goal to be creative every day for 100 days. Brad chose to write about all of the acts of kindness that were shown to him and his wife over the course of 100 days.   

Aronson’s project quickly turned into a collection of stories from people all around the world and how their small acts of kindness made a positive change in the lives of the people around them. There are small gestures that changed a single life or acts of kindness that transformed hundreds of thousands of lives! During this scary time of COVID-19, the whole world needs more uplifting stories of kindness!

Check out HumanKind: Changing the World One Small Act At a Time. All author royalties are donated to the Big Brothers Big Sisters organization.