Today is World Cancer Day.
We remember survivors. We remember friends and family taken far too soon. We remember the doctors, nurses, and researchers who devote their lives to searching for cures and caring for the sick. We remember our heroes who fight with their lives.
Many of us think of these things every day.
Before January 20, 2009, cancer was something that happened to other people. Before that day, I heard about a friend or acquaintance (usually an adult) who had received a diagnosis, who had died, or who was living in remission after a hard-fought battle. I felt empathy for them but I don't think I could completely understand.
When we were drafted into the war, Roger and I were brought immediately to the front lines. We watched our daughter endure surgeries and treatment protocols. We saw her lose her hair (twice). We waited for news on scans with anxiety and anticipation. We learned what was truly meant by the words "a matter of life or death."
Our lives will never again be the same.
As we recognize World Cancer Day, think of how you can make an impact with anyone fighting the battle. You don't have to cure the disease to make a difference.
Make a meal for a family in crisis. Offer to babysit for siblings so a parent can spend more time at the hospital or balance the rest of their lives with their child's healthcare. Send a note, just to let someone with cancer know that you are thinking about them. Let them know that you admire their courage.
There are hundreds of organizations in the world devoted to helping those affected by cancer. Some focus on research, while others focus on caring for the individuals and families at every stage of diagnosis, treatment, recovery, and (unfortunately) sometimes death. Use World Cancer Day as an opportunity to learn more about what you can do to help. You can volunteer your talents and donate your time and money to so many worthy causes.
Until we can eliminate cancer, we continue to remember.