Making Strides Sunday

I'm not crazy about bugs and I really hate the thought of snakes, but the one thing that I am unbelievably afraid of is one day waking up with cancer. My Mom has worked in oncology for the past 25+ years and I have grown up hearing stories of her patients' "bone mets" and "positive nodes." To hear her speak about cancer is to hear of a veteran speak of war- it sounds nonchalant except when you realize that this nonchalance has grown from an OVERWHELMING amount of emotion and experience.

My Nana had breast cancer twice in her life and survived it both times and my great-aunt on my Dad's side recently went into remission from her breast cancer. Anyone who knows anything about breast cancer knows that having it on both sides of your family is NOT good news. This is a reality that I think about daily; sometimes it's on my long drives to work and other times it's when I pass a hospital and sometimes for no reason it's when I'm falling asleep at night. How long until I too join the statistics?

This morning my Mom and I walked in the American Cancer Society's walk-a-thon, a 5-mile jaunt through the gorgeous weather with about 9 billion other people. I was TOTALLY unprepared for the number of women wearing pink shirts with "Survivor" printed on the back. You hear about the numbers and you see the pink ribbons, but there, in the flesh, were thousands of women, marching down the trail, some in wigs, some whose hair has grown back, and some proud of their hairless tops. They had confronted the demon, my demon, and yet they marched, wrangled and tired, but victorious.

What struck me the most was to see how many different types of women were Survivors. Women of all races and all ages, some wearing crosses around their necks and some wrapped in religious scarves. And there they all were, glad to be alive. It was really impressive.

Along the way there were hundreds of volunteers cheering for the walkers, many of them college students from Manhattanville or Purchase. I noticed that quite a few of them seemed to be foreign students from Asia and I thought about what this must look like to someone from another culture, this huge mass of Americans marching through the streets in the name of a disease. It is something so unique to our culture and in that moment I was really proud to be part of the power that lies in belief and the unwillingness to accept 'no.'

"Rock on, you motivated Americans," I thought to myself.

Because surely we can find a way.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

cancer can be so difficult to even acknowledge let alone deal with. I actually know a guy that works for Ronald McDonald house helping the kids and planning trips for them and their families. He always brings pictures of the kids he works with and sometimes he tells me about one of them passing away and I just stare at him in amazement. I honestly don't know how he can continually deal with something like that.

As for you, I wanna say, stop worrying. I know that's hard to do and easy to say but I say it any way. There are just some things out of our control. being expectant of anything, good or bad, does not help your peace of mind and I hope that you never have to go through that.