Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Blogging Against Cancer, again

This one's for you, Dad.

Today is Blog Against Cancer Day, part of LIVESTRONG Day, sponsored by the Lance Armstrong Foundation. As we have already established, I'm against cancer, and I've even blogged about it, so this seemed like a no-brainer.

The point I made before was that I'm tired of waiting around for a cure. I'm sick of having to deal with all the friends and family who have gotten and either survived or succumbed to cancer. Since that last posting, my wife's grandmother passed away from her cancer. Such an event is never easy (although she died quietly and painlessly in her sleep, at home, with family near), and that has been made especially clear seeing the reaction of our not-quite-five-year-old daughter, who was very close to her great grandmother.

I've been wearing a yellow LIVESTRONG bracelet for a couple of years now, ever since I was given one by a young friend who distributed a lot of them as part of her bat mitzvah project. But what drew me to the Lance Armstrong Foundation was something much farther back, indeed, before I was born.

Lance's story is well known by now. But nearly 40 years earlier, my dad had a similar experience. Newly married, in his early 30s, and with a newborn daughter, he was diagnosed with testicular cancer. Cancer treatment in 1959 wasn't nearly as advanced or specialized as it is today, but after surgery and cobalt radiation treatments, Dad was cured, and fully recovered, though it was deemed extremely unlikely that he would be able to have more children.

As luck would have it, just before my parents were going to adopt a child, they learned that they had, in fact, conceived another child: me. So I'm mighty grateful that my dad got another 20 years of life. But I'm pretty angry that that is all he got. Twice more he had cancer, this time starting in his colon, and finally, he died at the age of 56.

No one should die at such a young age. No one should have to lose a father or a husband (or a child) so soon. And his grandchildren should not have to think of their grandfather as just someone they've seen in old pictures.

I don't have any answers. But I do believe we can beat this thing. Take care of yourselves. Take care of your family and friends. And support organizations like LIVESTRONG and the American Cancer Society that support those with cancer, those who are survivors, and those who care for them. I know the cancer society provided both invaluable information and material support to my family when we were dealing with my dad's terminal cancer.

And support those who dedicate their lives to finding treatments and cures.

Live strong. And appreciate those around you who do, too.

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