“Being brave isn’t supposed to be easy.” – Sam Berns, age 17


A few years ago, Sam Berns came into our lives. Our friend Sean Fine (Academy Award winner, Sean Fine) was beginning to film a documentary near where we lived. So, after a few years of just phone calls and emails, Jorge and Sean got to see each other on a somewhat regular basis. When Jorge found out his “production assistant” job was actually to carry the battery pack for the video camera, he was less excited. 


That is, until he met Sam. 


Sam, the beautiful young man who lived with progeria, was a huge fan of Dave Matthews Band, the Boston Bruins, and marching band. Jorge had the opportunity to tag along, carry the video camera batteries, spend some time in the family home, and get to know Sam. At the film screening — months after he had last seen Sam — Sam approached Jorge and they picked up right where they last left off, talking about comic books and school. I met Sam, finally, that night, and he was the epitome of warmth, kindness, and life. 


Though the countdown has been ticking away, it’s been a few days since I blogged because, well, I’ve been thinking about Sam. On Friday, Sam finally moved on from here. Even though Sam passed his life expectancy of 13 years, he is gone too soon. I find myself thankful that Sam not only got to see the completed documentary, he got to experience the great impact he had on people’s lives. Around work, people would talk about “this documentary I saw last night on HBO that changed my life” and I knew they were talking about Life According to Sam.  Sam got to see reactions of film goers, of strangers, and of friends as his life unfolded on the big screen. 


As I brought myself back to writing, I thought of Sam. At the end of this post, I have a link to a TEDx talk Sam did not too long ago. Needless to say, he is perfect. 


Sam’s words were about his life, and in the short clip, he reminds us how to live happy. Here they are: 


1. I’m okay with what I ultimately can’t do because there is so much I can do.

2. Surround yourself with people you want to be with; people of high quality.

3. Keep moving forward

(4. Always go to the party)


As I enter into my 3-days countdown, my anxiety is growing about this surgery, and these four aspects have kept me grounded. I’m surrounded by so many people who couldn’t avoid cancer, who did not know it was coming. I do. I can. There is something I can do about my genetically high risk for cancer. To get through this, I’ve surrounded myself with incredible people — people of high quality. And, those who aren’t — those who are creating more stress and anxiety — just aren’t part of the picture right now. I keep moving forward. And, yes, I’m even going to the party. 


“When I was younger, I wanted to be an engineer. I wanted to be an inventor. I wanted to catapult the world into a better future.” You did, Sam. You did. 



Peace, love, and keeping happy, 


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  1. anne erde says:

    Liza, your spirit shines through your words. Will be thinking of you and sending metta for easy healing as you ‘keep moving forward.’ xoxo anne

  2. Barry, Sheila says:

    Thank you so much for sharing this story about one amazing kid. The world is a sadder place without him. Love you Sheila ________________________________

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