Saturday, May 30, 2009
Ups and Downs
Last night I was asked to walk a Survivor's Lap in the American Cancer Society's Relay for Life of Kent. It is the survivors that start the relay for the participants. I was honored to be able to walk with all the other purple-shirt wearing survivors. The survivors come in all shapes and sizes. There are grandparents, teenagers and everything in between. There was even a beautiful little 2 year old girl who was diagnosed at 11 weeks of age.
I am glad that I was able to participate. It was uplifting to see all of the survivors and to know that people really can win the battle. It was also wonderful to see all of the teams who have invested so much time and effort into fundraising and who are willing to camp in the middle of a football field in order to show the degree to which they support cancer research.
When I was first diagnosed in May of last year, I had two friends who had been diagnosed before me. Marty Hauer and Michael Cranstoun. We were all diagnosed with different types of cancer, at different stages and with different treatment plans, but somehow I still had this mental image of the 3 of us in the fight against cancer together. Unfortunately, Marty lost his fight and passed away in June. He was a true hero and left a beautiful wife and two wonderful children behind. Last night at the Relay event, I saw his wife and daughter. It is only the second time that I have seen them since he passed away. Though I was thrilled to see them, I was extremely saddened by the fact that cancer took away one of the truly great people in the world.
I also saw Michael and his family there. His church has been extremely supportive of his journey and had a team of walkers at the event. Michael has a type of oral cancer that was completely unexpected. He does not have a family history of the disease and is not and has never been a tobacco user. He finished chemo and radiation just before I started last year and has been supportive and a good friend to me ever since.
I was happy to see Michael, his lovely wife and two great children there walking and helping to find a cure for cancer. I was saddened however to learn that what Michael suspected was a recurrence was confirmed. Not surprisingly, he has a range of emotions to go along with this diagnosis. I have a range of emotions for him as well; anger, fear, disbelief, but also hope, gratitude that he has such an amazing support system with his friends, family and church and maybe just a tiny bit of something close to relief. Not relief that his cancer has returned, but relief that someone finally diagnosed it correctly. It is never good to get a cancer diagnosis. But there is something to be said for knowing which dragon you must slay so you can properly prepare for the fight.
As darkness came last night, the participants lit luminarias that completely surrounded the field. Though it was a beautiful tribute to those who have lost their battle, those who have won their battle and those who continue to fight their battle, it was heartbreaking to have a visual reminder of how many people have had their lives in the balance because of cancer.
In the stands, the luminarias spelled out two words: HOPE and CURE. In memory of Marty, for Michael, for me and everyone else who is battling or has battled cancer, I will continue to hope for a cure. Maybe next year we can add another word....NOW.
I have included a link to Michael's blog to the left. I'm praying for you Michael.