Sunday, July 31, 2016

Come hear the music play

Watching the political conventions this month, I find myself stirred to action. It is important for all of us to get involved. Of course this is true, not only in the election process but in everyday life. That's why I blog here every morning about making a difference.

According to those wonderful lyrics by Fred Ebb, "What good is sitting all alone in your room? Come hear the music play." Indeed.

Do you read this blog often? Tell us how you are living your life too. Comment on my thoughts here or just add your own. This blog is so much better when it's interactive, so let us hear from you. Have I ever said anything that has stirred you to action?

This is not an exclusive club either. I don't just write this for a select few. Please feel free to share these posts with anyone and everyone. Together, let's make a difference!

Sunday, July 24, 2016

A few more things about cancer

A few more things about cancer this morning.  First of all, it isn't just one disease. During the past week, I have been talking here about cancers in general terms, and more specifically, what to do about it. Just like there is more than one kind of cancer, there is more and one kind of reaction. When I said that cancer sucks, and I am going to do something about it, I didn't mean that I would do away with it. How wonderful if that was an option. There are things we can all do that lesson our risks though, and we should give those serious attention. I've also pointed out here how we can render assistance to others, and aid in research and education.

Cancer can occur anywhere in the body, with some cancers more frequent than others. Breast cancer is more frequent in women for example (although it can occur in men). Prostate cancer of course only occurs in men. both men and women see lung cancer and colorectal cancer in high numbers. These blog posts are not meant at all to scare anyone, but cancer can occur at any time, and it is good to be prepared. Your own doctor is always your best source of information on your health. Check out the various links I have posted here as well.

Coming up, I will be back in San Francisco for two important events, and I welcome your support as always, especially at the Light the Night Walk in November. Click HERE to donate to that. Also, consider participating in a similar event near you.
 
Please feel free to share these posts about cancer, and as I have said earlier, your comments are most welcome too.  Let us hear from you! 

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Saint Jude

On Tuesday I wrote here that Cancer sucks. You may have followed the other words I put down in this space about cancer. Yesterday I mentioned some organizations that are part of the fight against these ugly diseases. Spending a week focused on cancers, brings to mind more information than I could possible share in this small space, but there is much more to say and more to do. Today I want to mention Saint Jude Children's Research Hospital. Located in Memphis, Tennessee Saint Jude is a nonprofit pediatric treatment and research facility focused on children's catastrophic diseases. It was founded back in 1962 by entertainer Danny Thomas.

Cancer is horrible when it strikes anyone, but imagine a small child having to fight for their life. At Saint Jude the focus is not only on pediatric cancer, but on other childhood diseases as well. There has been a marvelous success rate there too. The survival rate for acute lymphoblastic leukemia, which is the most common type of cancer in kids, has increased from 4 percent in 1962 to 94 percent today. Watching the fundraising messages on television, you see children full of hope and energy. Cancer has to be a scary thing for a young child, and giving them hope is a huge step in treatment.

I have mentioned a number of organizations here this week, and there are many more that we can look at, but I do hope you will look further at Saint Jude. Their website is at https://www.stjude.org/ and have much information, including ways you can get involved.

Have you got personal stories of children battling cancer? Has cancer touched your family of friends of yours? Please feel welcome to contribute by commenting below.

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. 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.

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!

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Fear not?

Reading through the Christian Bible, you will find a number of instances where people are going about their everyday activities, and suddenly and angel appears and says "Fear not." Really? Even another person appearing out of the middle of nowhere will startle you. An angel - a supernatural being, would seemingly create more fear. Calm down? No way!

Picture a man, driving with his young son, down a street and going about his everyday activities. Suddenly a police officer appears, and without any warning, shoots the man dead. The community leaders say "fear not," or another version of it. They appeal for calm. Really? A man shot to death in front of witnesses? That image will remain in their brains forever. Calm down? No way!

The amount of hate in the world seems to be rising by the minute. I'm particularly sad about the anti-Black, the anti-gay, the anti-poor, the anti-immigrant, the anti-trans, and the anti-women. (Oh and there are other groups that are hated too, but you get the idea). There seems to be very little collective will for social justice in this land of "liberty and justice for all." Oh yeah, folks will take to the streets and smash the shop windows of innocent businesspeople or beat up the first person that crosses their path, but what does that solve? First, we need to get rid of the hate. Seriously. What good is it? Folks, we created the problem. We criminalized black, brown, trans, and poor people. We looked down on others and said they weren't good enough. We were wrong though. Everyone has merit. We created the problem. We can fix the problem. We need to want to though and we need to do more than urge calm and tell people they have nothing to fear.

Video footage I saw of a man being shot to death, while being held down by a police officer, made me sick to my stomach. We need to hold EVERYONE accountable for murder, especially they ones who are supposedly protecting us from crime. Fear not? How can you not be scared after seeing something like that? Maybe I will be next. Maybe my boss or my friend or my sister will be shot, and left to die.

People hold up signs saying Black Lives Matter, but I want to see proof! If any lives matter we need to wake up and end the hate and discrimination. If you agree with me, pick up your phone and call your neighbors, friends, relatives, co-workers, and anyone who will listen to you, and urge positive action. Let me be clear about what I am saying here. Our legislators need to pass laws that treat people equally and our courts need to prosecute offenders - ALL offenders, vigorously and to the full extent of the law. We cannot allow any lawlessness. Everyone needs to be accountable. If your senator or congressperson or local leaders cannot or will not work for positive change, VOTE THEM OUT OF OFFICE.

Don't forget the Black men killed in so many different places just because of who they were.  Don't forget Orlando and the men and women killed in a gay club.  Don't forget the police officers killed in Dallas.  Don't forget all the instances of hate. The top left of my blog will serve as a constant reminder.  Nobody should have to live in fear!  Let's get going!  I'm shivering right now in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park, but I am warmed by the sight of so many folks working together here at AIDS Walk.  Isn't this how it should be?  This is our world, and it should not be filled with hate and fear. 


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! 

Monday, July 4, 2016

Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness

It has been 240 since this document was written. How many Americans today know these words? If you were asked to recite the Declaration of Independence, could you? Most people are familiar with the first sentence of the second paragraph: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." What about the rest?

The first paragraph is something we had to memorize when I was in school: "When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation."

A document that refers to equality, and the act of standing up for ourselves back then, is something we should celebrate indeed. Where are we today though? As I have been writing here day after day, there is so no true equality here in the United States (and in so much of the world as well). How about life and the pursuit of happiness? With all the violence - the daily murders and assaults, it seems that so many are being denied their lives and basic happiness. With parades and fireworks and patriotic music today, and with picnics and boating, and baseball games, we need to not only celebrate this wonderful country, but work to see that equality becomes the actually way we live and that gun violence is something from the past. Think America is great? Think it can be greater?

I want to see the day when every person is treated with decency and with respect. We can make it happen. Let's stop the hate.

Friday, July 1, 2016

Off to a good start

July should be getting off to a good start today, at least for the folks in California. Jerry Brown, that state's Governor, is expected to sign several bills into law that deal with gun safety. One would require an ID and a background check to purchase ammunition and would create a new state database of ammunition owners and also ban possession of ammunition magazines that hold more than 10 bullets. Another bill would restrict the loaning of guns to close family members, without background checks. Again, this is only in California where that horrible shooting last year in San Bernardino killed 14 people.

It should be noted too that Gavin Newsom, California's Lt Governor, has been campaigning for quite a while for comprehensive gun safety reform in his state. He has placed Prop 63 on the November ballot to let the people vote on it.

Erasing the hate? Well I would like to see more progress on that as we begin the month in which we celebrate our independence. All those who want to treat the lgbt community as second class citizens, would do well to check out a line from a 240 year old document that most Americans hold dear:  "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."

Note the key words of ALL and EQUAL. Let's therefore put away the hate. Let's put away the guns. Let's live together in peace and harmony. If we can get everyone on board with this, we'll indeed be off to a good start!