Turning illness into a friend

To the editor: "Friendly" (the term given by Judi Kaufman to her brain tumor), meet "My Friend," which is what I call my HIV virus after being diagnosed last September. ("Brain cancer takes a toll, but unlocks her creativity," Jan. 14)

Kaufman's optimism and creative outreach are the ingredients for positive living in the face of a life-threatening illness, whether cancer or HIV. I admire her courage and her decision to not let her cancer become the enemy but to befriend it instead, just as I have chosen to do with my HIV, which is now a friend for life.


I just wish there had been enough time for my father to name his Stage 4 glioblastoma multiforme brain tumor before he passed away four months after his diagnosis in 2006. I am sure he would have come up with one heck of a name.

Gregory Valenica, Whittier


To the editor: Kaufman's story resonates deeply as a strategy for managing many of life's intractable difficulties. As a family therapist in private practice, I see so much suffering that comes from how we view the challenges before us, not by the simple reality of the challenge.

By reframing her cancer tumor as "Friendly," Kaufman opened a path to creativity and to serving others that she might not otherwise have ever experienced. By befriending our real-life difficulties, we affirm life at its very core.

Kane Phelps, Pacific Palisades

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