I share my story, because my story is what I know. I know that I was blessed in that my cancer was caught early. A lumpectomy and radiation treatments followed by medication. While I had a rough time for a while it was nothing at all like what some people go through. I know that and will be the first to admit that fact.
When I had the surgery, the anesthesia made me sick afterwards. If I got out of bed I had to hold the wall for a long time as I was so dizzy. I didn't really have too much pain, either that or I handle pain well as I managed it with over the counter pain pills. The radiation treatments left me exhausted, changed my diet radically and forever (which is really a good thing). I learned how to keep putting one foot in front of the other even when it felt that I was doing good to be upright and breathing. All of that was in 2008--here it is 2012 and I'm finally feeling human again. I'm figuring out the right vitamins and supplements to take and my energy and focus is much better. I am blessed and I know that to be true.
I also know--
I lost my Grandmother to brain tumors. A sweet, loving lady. A gentile lady with a heart of gold and steel determination that her grandkids would do right. I have photos where you could tell she wasn't feeling well, but by the time she was diagnosed, it was too late.
I lost an aunt to cancer, I lost an uncle to Leukemia.
I have friends who suffered, who battled and who won.
But I know of.....
Of a young man who fought the good fight. For four years he battled, struggled with and at times seemed to be beating cancer. Treatment after treatment he endured. Left so weak at times he seemed barely alive. Then there were the good times, the times spent with family when one thought maybe, just maybe. It wasn't meant to be. He was young in years when he lost his fight, but he had shown the strength and determination of ten grown men as he battled. He knew the risks of each treatment. He knew that he might suffer pain or side effects but he took the chance, in some instances fought for the chance to try this or that treatment as the treatments had not been approved yet. Along the way people grew to love him more, appreciate him, acknowledge his strength. He posted his testimony on Youtube, so that others would understand his thoughts, his beliefs, his journey.
I know of another young man, recently diagnosed. A young man who has been my son's friend for years, who spent so much time here that I called him my "other son". James spent as much time hanging out at his house that his mom was calling James her other son as well. The most recent update I was given on his status is that his cancer has spread and is a stage four. He has cancer in one lung and his liver. He will soon begin Chemotherapy. The last time I saw him he was tall and muscular. I saw his photo online and almost cried, he had lost weight because of the pain he had already endured. He has a rough road ahead of him, but he believes he can beat this. He has another doctor's appointment Monday, his mother is hoping he can fly in for a visit before his treatments start.
How many people, how many children, have gone through this? How much suffering must one endure? How strong, do people have to be when they are diagnosed? How...do we put a stop to this?
In 2008 I began participating in Relay for Life, I was doing it as a survivor. I sought to help raise money in the hopes of funding a cure, funding a preventive each time I participated in a fundraising event. Each step that I took I hoped to raise awareness of cancer and the pain of those who fight and of their caregivers. I walked, in the hope of helping to create more survivors and more birthdays. This year, I will walk in memory of Russell and his fight. I will also walk for Brandon and the battle that is ahead of him. This year, I will participate in Relay for all of those who are not here to walk, whoa re unable to walk, and join with those who are there. I will participate in Relay, in memory and in honor. I will walk, in the hope that we will find a cure for Cancer in our life time, and no one else, young or not so young will ever suffer from such a terrible disease ever again. A disease that touches so many every day.