Over the years, I've jumped on bandwagons and participated in charitable events just because I wanted to. Just because I wanted to be a part of a good cause, and doing my part to be involved with giving back. I liked being involved. I like the feelings that come from doing something nice just for the sake of doing something nice. It gives me the warm and fuzzy feeling that I'm doing my part to help those in need.
I've participated in a few Susan G. Koman Race for the Cures, I've ran a 5K for a cancer challenge, I've donated money to St. Jude's research hospital, I've participated in events for autism awareness, I support charities and organizations that feed and cloth the poor and homeless, and I've worn different colors for various awareness causes.
I participated in RFTC without knowing anyone with breast cancer. I ran the cancer challenge without having anyone close to me affected by cancer. I donated to St. Jude's without knowing a child that received their treatment, I participated in autism awareness activities because of the kids I worked with that had autism, and I wore whatever color I was told to without thinking of a person I was wearing those colors for. The giving to charities that support the poor and homeless is my of thanking the organizations that helped me when I was in those situations, and I never want to forget what I went through to get me where I am today.
But, today...on this day... there is a meaning to jumping on a band wagon, even if it is for nothing more than awareness and because I'm proud to know a cancer survivor.
Today is World Cancer Day.
If you're a Facebook member, you may have noticed that some people have changed their profile picture purple. Like my daughter told me this morning, it looks as though someone has gotten ahold of a photo editor for the first time. The regular profile picture, but now purple.
Well, those people (myself included) did not just discover a photo editor, we have changed our profile picture to purple in honor of cancer survivors all over the world.
And some in our immediate families.
Like my mom.
It blows my mind that just three months ago, I was hearing the news that knocked my socks off and had me bawling like a baby into Hubby's arms. The news that I might lose my mom. My best friend. That in a matter of one day she was perfectly healthy, and the next being diagnosed with lung cancer.
The news came as a shockwave. A major shockwave. I had never known anyone close to me with cancer. It wasn't something that had occurred before in our family.
In fact, the only disease that had ever affected me or taken someone close to me was Parkinson's disease that took my grandfather over ten years ago. He wasn't actually my "biological" grandfather, but still a man I loved and treated me and my siblings as his grandchildren. Since that time, I can't recall a single family member passing away from a disease of any kind. I still have all of my close family members perfectly in tact and healthy. My great-grandmother passed away while I was still a child, but she was close to if not older than 100. My grandparents are both in their 70's and spend their time going on cruises and trips to Vegas, in between their regular weekly outings to go shopping and eat dinner. My grandmother does suffer from some respiratory issues, and has to have oxygen.. but after spending 40 years smoking, it could be much worse. My grandfather is as healthy as a horse and still climbs up on his roof if it needs fixing, and can always be found (between vacations) in his shop building or fixing something.
A part of me has always thought that by participating in the events that support various charities, I was racking up some karma points. I know that sounds bad. But, that's what I've always believed. If I do my part to support causes and charities, I'm somehow keeping the bad juju away from the people I care so much about.
For the record, as crazy as it sounds, but last year was the first year in a while that I didn't participate in the RFTC. In fact, last year I didn't participate in ANY of the normal causes I take part in. And, then I get to find out my mom has been diagnosed with lung cancer.
Do you think I'll be sliding on anymore charitable events? I think not!!
Anywho, three months ago, I'm finding out for that my mom has lung cancer.
The few weeks that passed after finding out that news are all kind of a blur. I know we went to see a specialist. I know she had to have all kinds of tests and procedures done. And then, she was admitted in to the hospital to have the tumor removed, along with 1/3rd of her lung.
That happened right before Christmas.
And since that time, my mom has gone back for more tests and procedures and from where it stands right now.. the cancer is gone!!!
She is currently undergoing a round of chemotherapy, just to be on the safe side, but my mom is officially a cancer survivor!
She had her first chemo treatment three weeks ago, and it was tough. She's spent the past three weeks feeling extremely ill and lethargic. Doing any amount of activity knocks the wind out of her, and she can't eat very much because it makes her feel sick.
But, I know, that she'll take the sickness and tiredness for a few months because she knows that in the end SHE'S ALIVE. She survived. And this short term nastiness she's having to endure will pass, leaving behind her normal, healthy self.
She was supposed to go for her second round today, but due to Mother Nature not being very happy, my mom had to reschedule. We're getting another bout of snow and ice, and it just wasn't safe for my mom to travel to her appointment.
So, yesterday, when I first saw the post feeds about today being World Cancer Day, it held a whole different meaning for me. Of course I was going to change my profile picture purple, and my cover photo, and I'll dip myself in purple ink for a week if I have to. Because I want the whole world to know that my mom beat the odds and is now a cancer survivor.
This year, every event that I take part in will have a different purpose. OK, so my mom didn't have breast cancer... but that won't stop me participating in the RFTC. In fact, there's someone that works in our county (that I haven't met) that is a breast cancer survivor. I will proudly walk/jog 5K in her honor. I will absolutely participate in the Cancer Challenge 5K in September, and wear a big sign telling the world who I'm doing it for. I will donate money to the various charities and causes I believe in (like St. Jude's). I will donate food, clothes, and toys to the needy... and gladly participate in competitions that raise money for such organizations. And anything else that comes my way.
All the while, knowing that in a split second those families received news like I received a few months ago, or are going through some form of hardship in a similar sense. I am connected, just a little, to some of the heartache, worry, stress, and sadness those families have been through or are going through.
And, I will jump on the bandwagons of awareness because I never want to forget the way I felt that night, three months ago. It will forever be a solid reminder of what my mom went and is going through, and even though I can't take away any of her pain to help her recover faster, I want her to know how proud I am of her for fighting and staying strong.
I thank The Lord every day that our society has come such a long way in discovering treatments and cures to diseases that were an automatic death sentence just a mere decade ago.
People with HIV/Aids live longer, fuller lives. People with cancer are receiving treatments that prolong their lives, and some even being cured of the illness. People with Alzheimer's and Parkinson's are going through treatments that slow the progression of the disease. People with diabetes are able to manage their disease.
All diseases that have seen DRAMATIC changes in the past decade or so.
And I truly, 100% believe that all of those things are now possible because of the awareness and support given to research...made possible by people who participate and support the causes.
So, I will continue to do what I do and help these causes as much as I can. Except, now I'm doing it with a personal connection.
And I will honor her any chance I get. Being it running, walking, wearing a certain color, or changing my profile picture on my Facebook page. I'll do it. Because no small gesture is insignificant or pointless. They all mean so much... especially to those who are fighting or have fought for their lives.