American Cancer Society (ACS) is working hard to fight breast cancer with their Making Strides initiative. This nationwide breast cancer walk is striving to support those that have been affected, empower others, and cheer on survivors, all while fighting to end this disease.
We have all known someone with cancer. It’s hard to escape the web that cancer weaves, given how intricately our lives are woven together with others’. With social media, the word is spread fast, and it’s spread wide, with requests for good thoughts, and prayers, and support. Cancer is ugly. Cancer is an equal opportunity disease. It’ll strike anyone, anywhere. It destroys things and devastates families, but at the same time, in an odd way, it can bring communities together, on small scale and on a larger scale. Look at your Facebook friends- look how many of them “like” pages to support a friend or loved one who lives with cancer. I bet you’ll find many. Cancer is everywhere. Breast cancer is everywhere.
Breast cancer is one of the most “visible” and talked about cancers that women (and men) face, in my experience. I have known several women who have lived and fought a valiant fight against breast cancer. Some are young, some are old. Several have described hearing their diagnosis along with a prison cell door slamming shut, with a key tossed away. You. have. breast. cancer. CLINK. Fear. Sadness. Grief. Terror. Resolution to fight. Drive. Strength. Who do you tell? What do you say? How do you say it? When?
I remember the very first time an old friend confided in me. I found a lump in my breast, she said. I remember the cold chill that spread through me as I started to tell her I’m sure it would be fine, that it was nothing… when she whispered to me that breast cancer is in her family. Her grandmother had died of breast cancer. I didn’t know what to do. I hugged her. Tightly. Cried with her. Drank a lot of vodka mixed with cranberry juice that night. Waited anxiously while she waited for results. Not a tumor, not cancer. She was ok.
After that first experience, it wasn’t until well after I graduated college, and had gotten married, that I met G. I met her through my work. We had so much in common, G and me. Same age, same interests…youngest child of mixed marriages…but she was unbelievably close with her mother and my mother and I…we didn’t get along at all. Her mom had survived breast cancer when G. was in high school, and the day she walked into my office with tears pouring down her face, I knew. My heart broke for her. We hugged, and there wasn’t a lot to say. The cancer was back. It spread. Her mom passed away about 6 weeks later. Six weeks. That’s it. I suppose that in a way, it was a blessing, for her mom, but for her family? Devastating. It seems so unfair. It is so unfair. Cancer is unfair.
Supporting events like Making Strides Against Breast Cancer won’t bring G’s mom back. It won’t cure everyone. But it CAN give us the power to DO something, to support those we love, to help, to DO something- anything. Perhaps the monies raised won’t cure cancer today, or tomorrow. But every little bit helps. Sooner or later, though, maybe there will be a cure, and women like G’s mom will live long, happy lives, and be able to meet their grandchildren, travel the world, weed their gardens, be cranky old ladies on a front porch, instead of losing the battle to breast cancer.
With or without a cure, events like these, they do something that cancer can’t destroy. They bring people together, for a common cause. They give us purpose, a shared experience, that maybe we’d not have had otherwise. For the millions of us who feel helpless to do something to help, it offers us a way to help, and support, show our love, and fight alongside those we love so dearly.
Making Strides Against Breast Cancer is the American Cancer Society’s nationwide series of walking events to raise funds and awareness to end breast cancer. I’ll be walking in Hartford, CT this October 21. If you are in the area, I hope you’ll join me!
This is what I look like now. Or rather, my “official” headshot.
This is more like what you’ll be seeing on the day of the walk.
Disclosure: Compensation was provided by the American Cancer Society (ACS) via Glam Media. The opinions expressed herein are those of the author and are not indicative of the opinions or positions of the American Cancer Society (ACS).