Debbie Haar of Temecula, California, has been working to help her 9-year-old son Cole through a tough time. Cole was diagnosed with leukemia in February, just as the world was getting hit with the Pandemic.
The double scare of a cancer diagnosis along with a weakened immune system during a Global Pandemic has been tough for the family which includes Debbie, her husband and her four children. Given the risk, as well as the ordinary challenges that come along with the disease, the family have been very isolated with no school for Cole. “It has been a nightmare,” said Haar, explaining that his treatment will be three years or longer. “We’re in it for the long haul.”
But there is one trip they cannot avoid, the four times a week trips to Cole’s chemotherapy treatments. Those trips involve a two hour drive to Orange County, during which they would occasionally stop for a treat. One of those stops was at a Starbucks in Lake Elsinore, California. That is where they met barista Eddie Aldrete.
“I was just at the window, being happy and cheerful, and just trying to be as positive as I can be during the pandemic,” said Eddie Aldrete. The 22-year-old struck up a conversation with Debbie. After handing them their drinks, Debbie asked if Eddie would give Cole a little morale boost. Knowing her son could use a pick-me-up, she took a small gamble. She rolled down the back-seat window of her car and asked for a favor: “Could you tell Cole he’s going to kick cancer’s butt today?” she asked him.
Cole was having a particularly hard time that day. Eddie gladly spoke to the young man. Saying “You can do this. We are all rooting for you. We are all behind you. You are strong, and you’re going to do great,” Haar, 44, recalled. The parting line of Aldrete’s unplanned pep talk was, “You got this, buddy.”
When Cole heard this, Debbie says he was cheered up so much that it was like night and day. Cole was so inspired that he asked his Mom if they could go see Eddie before and after every chemo treatment. So the Haars started going to the Starbucks on the way to the Children’s Hospital of Orange County, ahead of each chemo appointment, hoping to see Aldrete for a pep talk.
Eddie of course isn’t always working when they come by, though he does his best to be. But his co-workers have also taken up the cause, giving Cole a little pep-talk every time they come through.
But that’s not all. Eddie also exchanged numbers with the Haars so that they could talk even if he wasn’t at work. Soon, Eddie and Cole started FaceTiming and playing video games virtually. “I decided I’m going to be a force of positivity for Cole,” Aldrete said. “I’ll be his cheerleader.”
Eddie has faced his own challenges in life and those have allowed him to better relate to Cole. “I tell him I don’t know how he’s feeling, but that it is okay to be upset. It’s okay not to be okay, but just keep fighting,” he said.
The two have become such friends that even Eddie’s extended family and the Haars have gotten to know each other over FaceTime, too. When Aldrete’s father, Eddie Aldrete Sr., 51, heard Cole needed blood, he promptly booked an appointment to donate his own.
“Cancer is a terrible disease. My mom and dad both passed away from cancer; both my sisters had breast cancer. I’ve been through it, and I’ve seen family members suffer from this terrible illness,” Aldrete Sr. said. “I knew Eddie always had a big heart and cares about other people, but for him to actually take the time to help somebody he didn’t even know is awesome.”
“We want to hear him ring the cancer survivor bell,” said Aldrete Sr.
“He has a great group of people that are cheering him on. We call it ‘Cole’s Crew,’ and it’s family, friends and people we’ve met along the way during all of this,” said Haar, adding that they started an Instagram account together to chronicle Cole’s cancer journey. “Eddie is his biggest supporter.”
Cole agreed: “He’s really nice, and he helps me get through the day by motivating me,” he said.
“It really is a friendship,” Eddie said, adding that he sees Cole as a little brother. “Relationships can happen out of nowhere sometimes. I didn’t expect it at all.”
It’s a beautiful bit of compassion and care between strangers that became friends and it is your Good News Story of the Day. Read it all here.
“The world needs more Eddies,” said Debbie.
“I don’t think I’ve done anything phenomenal,” Eddiee said. “It’s something that any human being should do. Just be kind.”
Story and Image from The Washington Post.