The following blog post is dedicated to my friend, Susan Clawson, who lost her hard-fought battle with stomach cancer earlier this month. Susan was an incredible woman. Despite her own battles with both thyroid and stomach cancer, she helped raise both awareness of cancer and funds for research through her Relay For Life leadership roles — roles to which she brought great passion & energy. I know I and other friends are committed to keeping her cancer-awareness and research-funds-generation goals alive!
This morning, I met with my lovely contact at The Jimmy Fund. Such a caring and kind individual and so passionate about her role in helping Jimmy Fund Walk teams generate funds for cancer research. We talked about a number of things — fundraising ideas for my “Mission Possible” walking team, and how I could share with local reporters both my reasons for walking, as well as a cute story about how I met a good friend and current cancer patient thru the walk — all to create awareness for the walk and it’s important mission. We also chatted about my own cancer journey and how treatment for abdominal sarcoma has had a lasting impact on my health, as well as my unending desire to provide ongoing support to friends and family who are battling cancer, so they never feel alone or forgotten during their cancer journey.
I also shared with my Jimmy Fund contact a “fun fact” I hadn’t thought about in a while. How Dana Farber Cancer Institute (DFCI) — the organization that receives and employs the funds generated thru the Jimmy Fund Walk to conduct innovative, life-saving research — was one of the very first places I worked when I moved to Boston after graduating from UCONN. Back then, the beautiful, state-of-the-art Yawkey Center owned and run by DFCI did not exist. I worked out of the Dana Building, which is still used today. As a temporary employee in DFCI’s HR Department, each morning as I came to work, I walked by a children’s play area set up in the back of the lobby. While seeing kids battling cancer made me teary-eyed, it also gave great meaning to working at DFCI — to help these kids and others win their cancer battles.
Little did I know — and I’m tearing up as I write this — that 23 years later, I’d be a patient myself and receiving care in the exact same building!
This October, I’ll walk in the Jimmy Fund Walk — so happy it is in-person again this year — for the fifth year!
It’s been another very busy year for me on both the work and personal fronts, but when summer rolls around, I know I need to make the time to start fundraising more for my Jimmy Fund Walk team, “Mission Possible.”
Why I Know and Have Supported So Many Other “Cancer Warriors”
There’s just not enough “real estate” on my Jimmy Fund walk page to explain why I continue to walk and raise funds for the Jimmy Fund, so that’s why I’ve taken to my blog to share my countless reasons. Friends and family have pointed out to me that, compared to the average person, I seem to have a disproportionate/very large number of loved ones who have battled or lost their battles with cancer. I won’t argue that, and there’s a reason for it — once you’ve been a “cancer warrior” yourself, friends and family members who are diagnosed with cancer tend to reach out to you for advice regarding how to physically and emotionally handle a cancer diagnosis and treatment.
Plus, you get to know other cancer patients who are on the same treatment schedule as you, or through virtual cancer support groups and discussion boards. And, a sad actuality of serving on the Braintree Relay For Life Committee for a few years was that I made friends with people who are involved with cancer fundraising because they are “cancer warriors” themselves.
All of the above explains why I have so many names listed next to my number one and number two reasons for why I walk in the Jimmy Fund walk below.
And, lastly, as a cancer patient or cancer survivor, you know what it’s like to feel so darn lonely and out-of-step with the rest of the world. As I shared with my Jimmy Fund liaison this morning, when you are battling cancer, it’s particularly hard to see the world keep spinning and everyone going about their day-to-day/everyday lives when what was previously your normal routine/life has been put “on hold,” — either temporarily or forever.
Reasons Why I Walk In The Jimmy Fund Walk
- IN MEMORY of family members and friends I’ve lost to a variety of forms of cancer, including lung, bladder, prostate, breast, stomach, brain and pancreatic cancer: Sue M., Felice E., and Karen T. (my college friends), Susan C., Enid L., and Patty W. (Braintree Relay For Life Committee friends), Jeff P. and Scott R. (high school friends), O.V. S. (my dad), George E. (my grandfather), Hazel S. (my grandmother), and Sharon C. (my sister-in-law), Beth M. and Jen L. (fellow sarcoma patients), Bruce M., Trece M., and Nancy K. (fellow cancer patients I met along my journey), John S. (a close neighbor’s son). And, there are many others from cancer support groups I lost along the way.
- IN HONOR of family members and friends who have won their cancer battles or who are still fighting, including leiomyosarcoma, neuroendocrine tumor (NET), and prostate cancer, breast cancer, and thyroid cancer: Barbara and Maria S. (my sisters), Jean C., Jeanne M., Francine F., Carolyn Q., Barbara J., Chris M., and Archie S. (life-long/close friends of me and my husband), Pat E. and Dee C. (women who walk with my team), and of course, yours truly.
- TO REMIND others that “cancer never takes a holiday” and that, if anything, the number of individuals battling cancer is on the rise vs. on the decline, and that there is not one person among us whose life hasn’t been, or won’t be impacted by cancer in some way, even if it’s thru a loved one’s diagnosis vs. a personal diagnosis.
- TO RAISE VERY MUCH-NEEDED FUNDS for cancer research, especially for rare cancers, since no one treatment is likely ever going to be capable of treating each & every form of cancer. And in keeping with the aforementioned, to feel that I’m helping friends & family who are still battling cancer or, who might again battle cancer, due to metastasis or recurrence. Fundraising is a way for me to put my anger and sadness about cancer into something positive and to not feel like the deaths of those who passed from incredibly hard battles with cancer were in vain, and to remind those fallen “cancer warriors” that they will never be forgotten.
How You Can Honor Or Remember The “Cancer Warriors” In Your Life
The above is pretty simple. Donate to my “Mission Possible” team or support another Jimmy Fund walker. Or, join my team by visiting the Jimmy Fund Walk site and registering to be a member of “Mission Possible.”
And, visit this page of my site if you need help and courage to “keep fighting.” E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org if there are fighting people, words, or songs I should be adding to this page. Plus, let me know if there is anyone you want me to honor or think of as I walk on October 2 this year!
Thanks for any support you end up giving my team and those who battle cancer!