I have been forced to adopt an unwelcome familiarity with cancer.
As I write this, I am thinking of friends and family members who have battled or are currently in treatment for a seemingly impossible list of cancers: breast, ovarian, uterine, lung, bone, throat, blood, lymph system, liver, prostate, thyroid, skin and brain, to name just a few. To make matters worse, two of my close friends recently introduced me to the sarcoma family of cancers, adding one more ugly profile to this enemy invader. Not to mention the metastatic diseases that can result from these cancers of origin.
For these survivors and their families living day to day with cancer, it can be a revolving cycle of fatigue and pain. Many cancer patients measure time from scan to scan, endure stressful and sometimes damaging treatment protocols yet still somehow manage to find innate reserves of faith, mustering up hidden stores of strength to keep a sense of normalcy in their daily lives. I am humbled by their power in the face of these challenges.
In the past year alone, I’ve been invited to participate in or write checks for numerous walks, runs, bike rides and other fundraising mechanisms raising money for cancer study and prevention. All of these worthy and well-meaning charity efforts serve to raise public awareness and each is a critical catch basin helping to finance larger efforts to find a cure.
Of course, I will continue to dig deeper into my pockets and hit the trail whenever I'm asked. But I am also ready to do more. It’s time to take a new kind of action step. I have turned a corner in my relationship with cancer.
For me, this means connecting on a deeper level. I’m seeking a richer and more focused commitment, so that I can deliver my support and possibly make a difference in the lives of others in a way that I can measure more personally. I want to play a bigger role in an effort, not only as a friend or relative of a cancer survivor, but as an active advocate for cancer support. I want to take my seat alongside a team who shares similar goals.
I'm grateful to have found a place to exercise my giving back muscles within a small, but mighty non-profit organization located right here in my community. Run by a colorful and talented cadre of women, this group has welcomed me, and I’ve come to realize how meaningful and limitless this experience promises to be.
Aptly calling themselves, Tough Warrior Princesses, they know first hand what it means to LIVE with cancer. Many are courageous survivors themselves, as well as mothers, sisters, aunts, cousins, wives and daughters of people who have been touched by cancer. Together, they have laughed, cried, and held each other up against this terrible danger. They have also experienced the darkness that comes with losing some of their own. What makes them so beautiful is that they have never stopped loving, working, playing, fighting for, or dreaming of a world without cancer. Enthusiasm and hopefulness are the only options they will consider.
It’s a great honor for me to have been invited to join their ranks and I look forward to discovering useful ways to contribute. In such a tenuous world, I know that whatever life holds in store, I will be better off facing the future with the princesses by my side.