Yesterday was World Cancer Day, an international effort to "raise awareness of cancer and to encourage its prevention, detection, and treatment."
Few of us don't need to have our awareness of cancer raised any more than it is already raised. I would dare say this of each and everyone of my readers. Dear reader, I would be willing to bet that one or more of these is true:
1. You have or had had cancer;
2. You have a loved one who has or has been treated for cancer;
3. Same for a friend; and
4. Sadly, you probably know someone no longer with us due to cancer.
How much more aware can any of us be of cancer?
The prevention, detection and treatment part is something else entirely.
For example, right now, there is no test for early detection of pancreatic cancer, the cancer that took an aunt, an uncle and a great uncle. The man possibly most at risk of pancreatic cancer in the United States is currently battling a different type of cancer - former President Jimmy Carter.
Just speaking for myself, I don't know what strikes more fear into my heart - thinking of cancer and the nature of this disease that hijacks your very cells and turns your body against itself, or thinking of how cancer is treated and what it does to you.
All of our hearts have been broken by cancer. A couple of weeks ago, I found some photographs from 2008, when I still had printed photos. I looked at a group of me, some friends and neighbors, and thought of those who have had cancer since that day. It was chilling. Two of the group are no longer with us. Three more survived their cancers.
Today, I reread a post from 2012, wishing my best friend from childhood a happy 60th birthday. That girlfriend I blogged about below passed away this past September from cancer, and one of the bloggers who commented on that post passed away, also from cancer, last month.
It is said that cancer is a word, not a sentence. Neither my childhood friend, or my blogging friend,would put up with an instant of self pity from me. Instead, if they were here, they might have said:
"Let's get out there and treat life as the miracle it is - each and every day. And let's do whatever we can to whip cancer's butt."
The people who do the cancer research, who work long hours in labs, whose pictures never get on the cover of celebrity magazines, are our true everyday heroes. Perhaps you know one of those people. If you do, I welcome your comments.
Today, in this blog post, I honor them.