I am going to make this one simple and plain. It’s too important to gork up with clever quips and narrative.
On September 10-12 of this year, about 15 other people and I will walk 60 miles for the Breast Cancer 3 Day. This event, which is sponsored by the VERY reputable Susan G. Komen Foundation, is a part of a nationwide campaign to raise money for breast cancer research.
If you know me in the least little bit, you know how close this cause is to my heart. And it should it should be to everyone’s. Statistics tell us that one in eight women will come down with breast cancer in some form or another. Chances are that you know someone (or at least know someone who knows someone) that is affacted by this disease even now.
I did the math last night. There are just over 216.5 million adults in the US. For our purposes (though I know this percentage is a little higher), we will say half of them are women: 108 million. One out of 8 translates to 12.5%. That means 13,500,000 women will be affected by this disease sometime during their lives.
Well, I may be a simple country doctor, Jim, but that sounds to me like an epidemic.
Just last year, over 213,000 new cases of breast cancer were discovered, and nearly 40,000 women died.
In my mind…that’s too damn many.
My beautiful wife has struggled valiantly against this disease for seven years. Hell, Action Jackson’s mom has done the same thing for nearly 25 years! And, I am not here to cry in my beer or his (on his behalf), but you can imagine the toll that this type of struggle takes on one’s entire family.
You know what, though? That’s not the thing that really gets me. I mean, Jack’s family made it through, and we’re making it through. We’re going to be okay come what may.
You know what slays me?
Last night, we held our first meeting for our newly formed walking club. We’re all trying to get in shape for the big walk (it was cookl, by the way, folks from their 20s to the 70s! Cool, huh?). There were about 15-16 folks there, and our friend Jean, who had put together the evening, went around the room and asked us to introduce ourselves and say a little bit about why we were walking. Lynn wasn’t there yet–the start of the meeting conflicted with her nightly qigong healings–and so I felt I, being her dutiful husband, should say something on her behalf, which I did.
As I spoke, I made certain to look around the room and into the eyes of the people around me. My gaze, however, kept coming back to this one woman. She was very pretty. A great, warm, fresh face–terrific smile. Eyes that were at once vulnerable, yet disarming. And cute blond hair wisped back in some sassy little doo. No…I wasn’t checkin’ her out… In fact, her cuteness wasn’t the reason why I kept looking back at her.
It was what I saw behind her eyes.
There was something there. I thought it might be empathy of some sort. Or was it a sadness..? I wondered whether her mother or an older sister might have struggled with breast cancer, and that’s why she was there. I mean, the woman looked quite young–mid-to-late 20s at best. No way she could have gone through it herself.
When it came for her to speak, she quietly told everyone her name, and then she nodded to me, saying, “And I’m…a breast cancer survivor, too. I just finished chemo about 9 months ago. Over a year’s worth. And I’m just now trying to get my life back.”
Ohmigod…there it was. It WAS her. But…how could that be? People, I wanted to cry. I remembered back to what it was like seven years ago, when Lynn was a mere 33 years old–in the prime of life!–and we got the news. I remember how we were devestated because Lynn was so young. Yet, this girl…
Later, Lynn and this girl were talking. She was very philisophical about the whole ordeal, which is to her credit. When Lynn mentioned forced menopause (one of the intended side effects of chemo and other treatments), the girl rolled her eyes…and then almost–ALMOST–got a little misty-eyed. Lynn was complaining about the trials and tribulations of going through menopause, and the girl was laughing about it along with her. When Lynn remarked, “Thank God we already had kids.” That was when the girl got quiet.
“Yeah,” she nodded. “You’re lucky. I’ve been having a little bit of trouble accepting the fact that I won’t have children now.”
That was the moment, my friends, when I had to walk away from the discussion.
Talk about grace. Talk about courage. And talk about tragedy.
I mourn for that young woman, and I mourn even more for the children she will probably never have. Because I only talked to her for 30 minutes, and I already knew she would have made a stellar mom.
That’s what slays me, folks.
So…this is what I am asking you today…no…I am making a plea.
I am walking the 3 Day in September with my wife and 15 other people. Please do me one of two favors:
1. If you can, walk with us. it’s easy to sign up! Just go to the 3 Day web site and follow the directions. When it asks whether you want ot join a specific team, choose TRUE LOVE. Each walker is asked to come up with $2000 in donations. 85% of all the donations go directly to breast cancer research (the other 15% covers the expense of the event and administrative costs). Do this because, well…the more the merrier! Do it also because the more people we get walking, the more potential we have to raise money to help stop this disease in its tracks.
2. If you can’t walk or don’t want to walk, please consider donating. It’s easy to do it! Just click here to donate to TEAM TRUE LOVE. You can donate as little or as much as you can afford. I know…I know… I hate asking as much as I am guessing you hate to be asked. It’s gotta happen, though. I am 25% to my goal, and I am hoping that I can not only meet it, but exceed it. Help me help them stomp out breast cancer. Help my wife, help Jack’s mom, help that girl, help–insert the name of someone you love here.
Anyway…I rambled on way longer than I intended. But it’s a great cause, and a great way to make a REAL difference in peoples’ lives.
Thanks for reading, and please give generously. Here’s to WALKING THE WALK!
P.S. If you’ve already donated (and you know who you are!), I thank you from the bottom of my heart. If you are about to donate, thank you, too. I really appreciate all your support. B