Friday, July 22, 2016

organized in fighting cancer

The fight against cancer should be a solo performance, and thankfully there are many resources. Years ago, I briefly worked for the American Cancer Society (and continued for some time to volunteer with them) and I was amazed at all of the resources they offer. There are many other cancer organizations too, some which deal with a specific cancer and some that support a certain geographic area. Want to do something about cancer? Here's another place to begin.

The website for The American Cancer Society is excellent - http://www.cancer.org/ - and there you can also find out about volunteering, if that is something at interests you, and you can also make donations. There are many ways to donate too, such as giving your air miles or hotel points, or even making IRA donations, or giving your car. Their website also has live chat and information on every type of cancer. I love all of the suggestions they have on how you can get involved too, such as giving a cancer patient a ride to chemotherapy, sending out emails to friends and family about their cancer screening guidelines, or putting together a team for cancer-related fundraiser.

The American Cancer Society is one of many great places to get involved in the cause. In the San Francisco area, I am a big fan of Friends of Faith, which I mentioned earlier this week. Visit their site at http://www.faithfancher.org/ and find many more resources. The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society (which deals with blood cancers) has offices across the country and has many ways to get involved, including their annual Light the Night Walks. You can find them online at https://www.lls.org/

These are but a few of the many cancer-fighting resources and organizations. Do feel free to mention others and perhaps some of your own experiences, in the comments section below.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

The diagnosis

Just a little over four years ago, a friend of mine was diagnosed with advanced colon cancer, with his doctor saying it would be a good idea start getting his affairs in order. The doctor said his chances were fifty-fifty. I can't even imagine how I would feel if I were the patient. I hope I would have the strength to endure.

It was not long after that that my sister took our mom to the hospital. Mom had been having trouble breathing. She had been living with leukemia for a number of years, but would soon discover another cancer was inside her. There was a two inch mass on her lung. I was right next to her bed when she was given the diagnosis and the grim news that there was nothing that could be done. I felt like someone had just punched me in the stomach. It had to have been much worse for Mom. Eleven days later, she passed away.

Last April, one of my favorite people in the world, found out he had liver cancer. Confident and faithful, he convinced me and so many others, that he was going to fight vigorously and that he was going to win. In telling friends last April, he said "Many, many thanks for your unrelenting support--we will make it through this, and we finally reach that point you will all be a much treasured, very beloved part of that victory." If wish he had been correct. Five months later, my friend quietly went home to his maker.
 
I don't know how I would react to a cancer diagnosis.  I do know I have seen enough!  This week I have been writing about that here (and I will have some more to say tomorrow), because it is important.  We can do something.  I do hope you will join me.  I invite you to share your thoughts below as well.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Something to help

Making a difference, for the better - that is the theme of this blog, but what about cancer?  How on earth can I make a difference, and why should I even be concerned? Although I am personally very healthy, as I pointed out yesterday, I have been touched by cancer many times over the years and have lost a lot of friends and family members. My grandmother had stomach cancer, and I never want to witness the pain and discomfort she experienced. I vividly remember my mom's last hours too, when she was gasping for air due to her lung cancer.  So, what do I do?

First of all I want to point out that I am not a doctor or scientist and nothing here should be taken as medical advice. Actually you can read these entries from any day on any subject, and the words I am putting down are simply ideas. I'm sharing thoughts with those who care to read them, and those who care to get involved. We can't change the world by sitting home watching old I Love Lucy episodes!
 
We are all affected by cancer in some way, and we can all do something to help.  Remember those lists I have shared here about random acts of kindness?  Well they are endless.  The same is true in the fight against cancers.  There is not just one answer.  When you are diagnosed with a cancer or when you hear the news from a family member or someone at work, what happens first?  The same thing is true.  There is not just one answer.  We all deal with things differently.  Rage, tears, quiet contemplation, and any number of emotions can result.  Information is a good place to begin.  Know as much as you possibly can.
 
Notice I have said WE are all affected and WE can all do something?  That word 'we' is important, because cancer is something that nobody should have to deal with alone.  There are all kinds of supportive individuals and organizations that deal specifically with cancer.  Seek them out.
 
If you and everyone in your circle of friends is currently healthy and you aren't dealing with treatments and healing, you might consider volunteering at cancer treatments centers, at a hospice, and charitable organizations that deal directly with cancers, or at hospitals.  Donations are welcome too and can do all kinds of good.
 
There are numerous events all over the country that are excellent resources and sources of support, and I want to mention some of them here tomorrow.  We can look further ahead to many ways to kick cancer in the butt.  Please feel free to comment below also.


Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Cancer SUCKS

This morning I may be stating the obvious when I say "Cancer SUCKS," but in the past few years I seem to have encountered it on a very regular basis. I'm certainly not alone. I keep hearing friends and acquaintances mention a family member or co-worker or friend who has just been diagnosed with cancer.

Even though this blog is NOT about me, I have occasionally mentioned family or friends and some of the events I have taken part in. This past weekend I was back home for the 30th AIDS Walk San Francisco, and something someone said to me got me thinking. They asked why I was so concerned about AIDS. There are others causes of death of course. Well I happen to think that AIDS awareness is very important. I've lost a lot of friends, and really don't want to lose any more. That was my focus last weekend, but it doesn't mean other diseases don't matter. (For the folks who just don't get Black Lives Matter and who keep saying All Lives Matter, listen to what I just said about AIDS being my focus at the time. You wouldn't expect someone at AIDS Walk to get up and yell "But what about heart disease or cancer?" and it's the same thing). My mom died with leukemia and from lung cancer. One of my dearest friends died last year at the young age of 42, from cancer. Actually numerous people I knew have died in the past few years from various cancers.

I have had the privilege of working with some incredible women over the years, who have been attacked by breast cancer. Some have won the battle. Some have lost. Veteran television reporter Betty Rollin was one of the one who beat breast cancer. She has been a great help to others, authoring several books, including one that deals directly with her fight: First You Cry. Faith Fancher was another television journalist diagnosed with breast cancer. She decided that raising awareness was important, and so shared her story with viewers. Faith's station regularly reported on each step of treatment. Faith even created a charity to do more. Sadly, the disease won and we lost Faith Fancher, but her message of hope and the importance of awareness that she shared, have saved the lives of many others.

Alicia Parlette was a newspaper reporter who told of her cancer, a rare form, and she too brought awareness. Reports in The San Francisco Chronicle, where she worked, and on National Public Radio, helped make cancer personal. It wasn't just something that happened to others. It happened to this woman we knew from her reports of the news. Alicia died at age 28, just over six years ago.

Some of the people I have known, were a number of years ago (like Betty Rollin and Faith Fancher) and some much more recent like my mom and the several friends who perished within the last year. On television or in magazines I see stories of celebrities battling cancers. I hear about treatment centers or places of research. I hear about the kids, some barely old enough to walk, who have been held in cancer's nasty grip. I see the pain and the suffering and I cannot help but know that cancer indeed sucks!
 
So now what?  What do we do about it?  Tomorrow, I'll have some thoughts.

Monday, July 18, 2016

the process

The whole process of choosing our leaders, isn't always something I agree with. I always prefer taking the high road, and so mudslinging and name calling is counter to who I am. The Presidential race has already been pretty divisive, and I don't really expect for things to improve. The party conventions begin today. This week it's the Republicans and next week the Democrats.

Turn it all off and wait for November? While that might be tempting, you might not be as well informed that way. It is better to vote with knowledge. Who is the best candidate? While I don't ever say how to vote, I will over and over urge you to be part of the process. Get involved. Listen to what the candidates are saying. Do you agree with them? Perhaps you should look at someone else. Who cares about people - about ALL people. Who has education or experience that will help them? Don't just check out those running for major office. Make sure you concern yourself with the local contests as well. If you see a candidate you really like, maybe you will want to volunteer for their campaign.

The other really important thing is to VOTE. Seriously. So many folks stay home. This is a sacred right and each of us can make a difference. Primaries count, as does the general election. In most places you can vote from home if you request a ballot early enough, so don't use getting out as an excuse.

Whether you favor the Democrats or the Republicans or the Green Party or any other group, be a part of the process. Your vote makes a difference!

Friday, July 15, 2016

Different kinds of involvement

Here in the city where I lived most of my life and where I learned so much about being involved.  Tomorrow and Sunday I will take part in two different charitable events, and I'm also watching how this city has been responding to all the hate in the world.
 
Sadly, San Francisco is not exempt.  There have been numerous racially motivated hate crimes here recently and crimes against members of the lgbt community as well.  People here don't generally sit back and take what comes though.  They get involved!
 
Now I won't for one moment say that one method is better than another.  There are many ways of reaching a better world.  Some things work better for some folks than others do.  The important thing is to contribute.  Remember the old saying:  If you are not part of the solution, you are part of the problem.
 
I was talking to people here last night about the Sunday last month when the Orlando shooting occurred.  Even though it was on the other side of the country, it really hit home here.  Guns seem to be involved in most or all of these killings and the former mayor of this city is leading the fight to put an end to that.  It is interesting also for me to see people gathering here for a Black Lives Matter rally and notice that the majority of the crowd is not Black!  Not because the African American population here does not care, but because there are not that many of them in the total population here in San Francisco, and because there are so many other caring and loving people who want to get involved.
 
Talk to the tourists when you ride through the fog on a cable car.  Something that small can make a difference.  Phone calls, letters, and emails to elected officials help bring change.  Speaking up whenever we see wrong is really an important way to contribute.  So many different things we can do - perhaps we can get involved in it all!

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Ready to fly

Right now I am at McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas, just getting ready to board a flight to San Francisco for a weekend of raising money and awareness. I don't have time to say much now, but keep the Orlando victims on your heart. Think also of lgbt people who have been victims of violence and all African Americans who have been murdered. Think long and hard about guns too. Just what is the solution?

During this trip, I will be taking part in the 30th AIDS Walk San Francisco, a 10k fundraising walk to fight the epidemic. This will be my 22nd time walking, and I am really excited to be walking with a special team I formed. I know this blog is supposedly NOT about me, but please allow me this exception. The cause is an important one, and I would be honored to have your support. Please click HERE to go directly to my secure fundraising page at the AIDS Walk site. Donations can be anonymous too, if you prefer.

I'm also honored to be taking part in a community fundraiser for another organization on Saturday. I love it when people gather together to help others, and I know this is going to be a wonderful event too!

Along the way, I will still be writing here, even though I will be away from my usual writing window. Right now though, I'm ready to fly!