I spend a lot of time on this blog promoting other people’s fundraising efforts – for charities, for project funding, for causes of all stripes. Today, I’d like to talk about my own cause: The American Cancer Society Relay For Life.
My Livejournal, September 7th, 2005, at 12:58 am:
I was diagnosed today with colon cancer. It is a small mass, localized (CT scans show no spread to the chest or the rest of the abdomen) and it is OPERABLE. (I typoed that in an email, so I need to get it right here!) I will be consulting with a surgeon on Thursday to see what form of surgery is best suited. My spirits are high and I am not worried. I am thankful that I let the camp nurse this summer convince me that my frequent exhaustion deserved a doctor’s attention … that one visit led to catching the anemia and now the early catch on this cancer.
I have been blessed with several strong role models these past few years in terms of dealing with cancer. I could cry and rail on about “why me, the family’s been through so much already,” but the truth is acting that way would go against the memory of my Mother and Denise Barnoski, who both kept their spirits up until the last minute. It would also go against the example shown me by Karen Lichtman (kij66), who has been fighting breast cancer.
Until I went trolling back through all the cancer posts on my livejournal in preparation for writing today’s post for my website, I’d honestly forgotten just how much calm I projected in the face of that news. I recall the doctor calling me and saying “It is what we thought it was, let’s schedule an appointment with a surgeon,” and then getting off the phone with my friend Karen Puccio, sharing the news with her, and saying “But I don’t think I ever actually knew what he thought it was.” Which led to another clarifying phone call, and confirmation that he’d discussed it with me after the colonoscopy, but I was still so under the influence of the anesthesia that I didn’t remember the conversation at all. When the realization really hit, I wasn’t anywhere near as calm or composed as that journal entry made out.
Almost seven years later, and so much has changed. My mother had died in February of 2005; my father followed her in 2007. Karen Jenkins (Lichtman) lost her fight with cancer about a year later. Other family members have fought, survived, succumbed. I’ve become friends with Jay Lake, who is still fighting the same cancer I had. My own cancer has, thankfully, not returned, but I feel cancer’s effects daily.
Every year but one since the summer of 2006, I’ve taken part in the American Cancer Society Relay For Life at Mahopac High School. It’s a grand event, even when the weather wreaks havoc with the proceedings. The year that I missed the event due to work travel, the team I’m a part of was still there, and I did my walking in a state park somewhere in the Midwest, on my own.
This year, my team will not be at the Mahopac Relay. Our beloved and usually tireless team captains, my cousins Chrissy and Jimmy, have had a rough year and are just not up to the massive amount of prep work it takes to put our team on the site. No one else in the team has been able to step up and do what Chrissy and Jimmy do (the willingness is there, but the time is not). The same day I found out our team won’t have a spot at Relay I also found out about an 85th birthday celebration for a woman who has been like a grandmother to me for the past almost 20 years, and I’ve decided that everything happens for a reason – I am meant to be at Rosemary Pittman’s birthday party this year (no coincidence, I think, that she shares a first name with my mother. I think if they’d met, they’d have liked each other quite a lot.). And so I was hesitant to ask people to donate money to an event I’m not actually going to be at.
But several trusted friends, when I asked, pointed out that the money is about the Cause, not the Event. Cancer doesn’t rest throughout the year. Cancer doesn’t care if we’re in Mahopac on June 2nd. So why should I rest, or care? While I’ll miss being a part of the Community that day, I will still do my best to support that community’s cause, which is so much my own. And just as RFL does, I’ll be celebrating life and birthdays, just in a different part of the state.
So here’s my plea, the same as it is every year: Please donate to my page. Whatever you can muster in these tight times: $1. $5. Every little bit helps fund someone’s cancer care, or some lab’s cancer research. Every dollar works towards helping someone celebrate a birthday they might not otherwise see. As one of those people who is grateful for every birthday he gets to experience, I thank you in advance for your help. And in the words of my young friend Sam Lant – if you can’t afford a monetary contribution right now, please consider tweeting, posting, emailing, and sharing the link to my page. Maybe a friend of yours that I don’t know is in a position to help.
And hey, if you’re in or near Mahopac NY on June 2nd – go check out the event. Spend some money at the team tents. Get your face painted, buy some jewelry or a book, purchase a Luminaria in honor of a loved one who has battled cancer. Watch the fabulous Mahopac High School rock band ILLUSION perform. Be a part of a great day, and know that I am there in spirit, and am doing my Walking elsewhere in solidarity.
Thanks for reading this post, thanks for sharing it, and most of all, thanks for being not only my audience, but my friends. Life is fuller for knowing all of you.
Here’s the link to my page: http://main.acsevents.org/site/TR?px=4976893&pg=personal&fr_id=36614