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Kimberly Green: Fighting to Fight Another Fight

2009-02-24

Throughout October, the SunPost observes National Breast Cancer Awareness month by celebrating the lives of those who continue to survive this dreadful disease — the brave, bold and beautiful women who have taken a deadly diagnosis and turned it into something utterly affirming of life — and the issues they face daily. They are the truly courageous among us, and over the course of the month, we shall endeavor to give a few of them their due.

By John Hood


Kimberly Green
Most people, when faced with a life-threatening disease, tend to succumb to Elisabeth Kübler-Ross’s ubiquitous five stages of grief: Denial (“this isn't happening to me!”); Anger (“why is this happening to me?”); Bargaining (“I promise I'll be a better person if...”); Depression (“I don't care anymore”); and Acceptance (“I'm ready for whatever comes”).

But it’s what the person does after reaching the all-important fifth stage that truly determines whether they survive.

Take the case of Kimberly Green, who in 2006 accepted her breast cancer diagnosis, not with resignation, but with a resolve that would make even the most resolute among us cower in its wake.

Really.

As president of the Green Family Foundation (GFF), Kimberly oversees an organization that since 1991 has been addressing disparities in health care, community services, education and the arts, from Miami’s inner city to Haiti’s Central Plateau, and she’s done so largely on her own.

Here, most notably, her foundation helps fund the Little Haiti-based Youth Expressions, a teen program that utilizes hip-hop, spoken word and dance to bring about wellness and well-being among its many members, as well as its more adult-oriented splinter group, YE-TEC, which provides an array of computer classes to those who may have never before logged on.

The GFF also is known to back many of our town’s most distinguished arts organizations, be it Tigertail Productions or Miami Light Project, in addition to helping to support many efforts — private and public — that preserve and maintain the art and culture of Miami’s African-American community. Take, for example, A Photographic History of Black Miami, curated by FIU’s Marvin Dunn, which permanently resides in Camillus House’s Brownsville Christian Housing Center, formerly Christian Hospital — the first in the city to serve blacks.

In Haiti, Green and her family’s Foundation are aligned with Project Medishare, (an organization founded by the University of Miami’s School of Medicine’s Drs. Barth A. Green and Arthur Michael Fournier) that has long been involved with providing medical aid to the country’s rural poor.

And now, with last week’s Clinton Global Initiative announcement of the Foundation’s partnership with Columbia University’s Earth Institute and UM’s Miller School of Medicine to build the western hemisphere’s first ever Millennium Global Village, her connection to Haiti has grown exponentially.

But don’t think for a minute that Green merely sits back and redirects funds for projects she deems worthy of the cause, because this dame is as much hands-on with all of the Foundation’s doings as she is boots on the ground of wherever it’s getting done. In fact, just last month, Green was navigating Haiti’s pitted back roads in order to oversee the groundbreaking of the initial Global Village. Just last week, in her hospital room, she received Haitian President René Préval, who’d come calling with Greens father, Ambassador Steven J. Green and a coterie of secret service agents. That she did so on the eve and in the aftermath of what’s now her seventh surgery only makes it that much more remarkable.

And remarkable, really, is the only apt way to describe the woman who continues to defy all the odds, with a grace and a courage few people ever in their lives will witness, let alone muster. I’ve seen her field phone calls from a post-op hospital bed just to make sure a decision didn’t have to be held up on account of her illness. I’ve seen her attend meetings, often more than three in an afternoon, despite still suffering the pain of the previous day’s chemo or radiation treatment, so people could know that she would continue to be there for them, no matter what befell her. I’ve seen her smile through an MRI, wink while being fitted with yet another IV, and laugh in the face of a fate that would dare try to get in the way of what she wanted to accomplish.

More, I’ve seen a woman, stronger than strength itself, pick herself up, dust herself off and continue what she started, even after being hit with a blow that would fell even the hardiest beast. Not just a survivor, mind you, but someone who thrives life. A fighter who fights to fight another fight. And if that’s not remarkable, then nothing is.

For more information on National Breast Cancer Awareness Month visit nbcam.org.