Been a bit since I posted thoughts here. A lot has been going on in life so it is good to capture these thoughts now. I have been inundated with life events that have put me in a very pensive mood about what where I’ve been, where I am and where I am going in life. After these last two weeks, today is defintiely a Brand New Day.
When I arrived home yesterday I saw the biggest smile on my wife’s face. To be welcomed by a big kiss a day after coming home to find that I lost a close relative to a heart attack was definitely a good pick me up. This may be the beginning of a brand new day on our journey with cancer. My wife’s joy was from her follow up post-op appointment with her surgeon. I think her doctors were also relieved to see her smiling as well as she said that they all gave her big hugs. Yes, my wife was her usual “chatty Cathy” self again, and that meant all was really well. It just dawned on me that it had been over 18 months since I had seen that excitement on her face. I had missed her “text” message in which she had told me how happy she was. She had been in good spirits, mind you, but this was just different. Some say our journey of survivorship is over, but I think when we look back it has only just begun.
One of the things that I didn’t know would affect me so much is the way Breast Cancer Awareness has grown so much. Last year when my wife was just starting her battle we might have missed all of the action, but this year we both seem to be more aware of how powerful a movement Breast Cancer Awareness month really is. I felt like every week there was a walk or run for breast cancer and I did notice a lot of products in the grocery store when purchased gave back to some breast cancer research fund.
Ingrid Michaelson sang for Breast Cancer at Slide
For example, Ingrid Michaelson, pictured above, sang at a local club last night here in San Francisco with proceed donations at the door going to Breast Cancer Organizations in the Bay Area. The song “Be Okay” has become a feature song in the fight against breast cancer. She was also part of the Hotel Cafe Tour last year in which the album, Winter Songs, gave $.50 for each sale to breast cancer research.
SF 49er Cheerleaders wear pink tops for breast cancer
This past weekend, all of the NFL paid homage to breast cancer and its survivors. At the 49er game, donations were taken at the gate, referees wore pink, cheerleaders wore pink and players wore pink. Before the game, 50 breast cancer survivors were introduced to the players. One of the captains, 49ers QB, Shaun Hill, who wore pink cleats during the game, met with the survivors. He was later quoted as saying how he had put on the pink cleats without thinking. He didn’t know anyone with breast cancer, but when he met these women and saw the spirit in their eyes he said it suddenly became real to him and the shoes meant something. He said it even rattled him a bit before the game started.
Zach Johnson, PGA Tour Pro, sports pink ribbon at President's Cup
And just yesterday I was at the President’s Cup. Nothing formal was done around Breast Cancer Awareness but a couple of the US players, notably Phil Mickelson and Master’s Champion, Zach Johnson, wore pink ribbons. Phil’s wife Amy, a native of Northern California, is currently battling breast cancer. What was readily apparent was that Phil made a point of saying hello and stopping for a second to speak with every person who wore a notably pink cap or ribbon to stop and sign an autograph. Several elderly women who wore Susan G. Komen shirts were startled as he stopped to say hello and give them each a hug. It didn’t go unnoticed by me or any of the thousands of spectators who saw this connection and warmth he exhibited especially when compared to other golfers who whisked right by the crowd without any kind of acknowledgement to the screaming fans.
So what does this mean? To me it is just the sign of how powerful a community of similarity around a single cause can be. I wish the same thing could be done around heart disease. Just like the push for a mammogram, perhaps everyone should get an EKG. With the obese population we have and the number of people who die of heart attacks each year, why shouldn’t we all get one. I probably need one and my cousin who passed away in his early 50s in his sleep earlier this week could have used one. I bet his 3 teenage children and wife wish that he could have had one.
My son with the NFL ref sporting pink wristbands and ribbon
These events when they hit so close to home just make me think more about my life in so many ways. What was the last thing I did with my cousin? Gave him a High-5 and a hug at the 49ers home opener. How good does that make me feel? It helps me feel like my peace with my cousin is there. It reminded me that when you see someone make sure you leave a good impression with them until you see them again and to remember that smile until the next time you see them. My cousin and his wife and family are models to me of where I will be in 10 years. I can’t help but see that in 10 years I don’t want my heart to fail on my own children and leave them fatherless as they just get started with their lives. It is sad though. My cousin was my 10 year barometer in life. His death to me is a kick start to remind myself to do as much as I can to spend quality time with my children and really make sure they know me and my wishes for them. My life is an open book to them. No secrets. My fears and hopes and dreams are there for them to inspect.
My cousin and his wife were the first people we told on my father’s side of the family when my wife was diagnosed with breast cancer last year and they were the first to help out. My wife and I are beside ourselves about how lucky and fortunate we are to be winning the battle against breast cancer a year later at the same time we are seeing people who seemed so healthy leave us behind. There is no rhyme or reason it seems.
NFL All-Pro LB Patrick Willis sports his pink gloves and cleats
Finally, my son’s classmate’s dad finally lost his battle with pancreatic cancer earlier this week as well. Yes I feel like signs of my life area ll around me. Watching another dad with similar age children leave behind a wife to take care of a 10 and 7 year old is just so sad. When first diagnosed he told me how his main goal was to fight the cancer as long as he could but he knew he couldn’t win in the long run and thus his other goal was to impart enough of his thoughts on life to his two sons so that they’d have something to guide them. Watching the 10 year old this week, his father did a good job in preparing him for the inevitable day. Sad that it has to be at such a young age though for such a good kid.
So where do I go from here? As I said, it’s a brand new day. We can only go forward, live life to it’s fullest and make sure we taste every experience we can get and share it with everyone in such a way that we have an impact on those who might have to be reminded or forget the power of the human spirit.