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. Last week 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 television 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.