A dear friend of mine, who happens to be a physician, once said "We'll all die of cancer if we live long enough..." Wow. Quite the statement. I figured she knew what she was talking about, having seen enough in her practice to back the opinion with evidence. After helping host a benefit night for two beautiful, dear people in my immediate community, only to lose one of the them the very next day, that statement popped back in my head.
According to the National Cancer Institute, approximately 38.4% of men and women will undergo a diagnosis of cancer at some point in his/her lifetime (based on 2013-2015 data). In 2017, an estimated 15,270 children and adolescents - ages 0-19 - were diagnosed, and 1,790 died of said cancer diagnosis. That's almost 1 in 9 kids diagnosed who pass on from the deadly disease.
Given the data, it's not surprising so many of us have been affected or know someone who's been affected by the horror of cancer. As a kid, I remember assigning monsters from horror movies to a place of foreboding in my head. Didn't we all? After watching Season 3 of the Netflix Series "Stranger Things" (SciFi spoiler alert: Aliens within!), I've revisited my childhood and have assigned a monster to this heinous killer. I now see the Mindflayer when I think of "The Big C" -- an ominous, all-encompassing, soul-sucking monstrosity. (Think "Predator" meets "Godzilla" meets "Alien".) And, just like in the horror/suspense sci-fi thrillers of old, the good folks get hurt. Cancer, after all, does not discriminate.
But, we mustn't forget that the stars of those movies are the heroes/hero. All may not end up rosy, but there's usually several bright, shining moments - perhaps a life lesson or two - to which we cling. YOU are the heroes in this story, My Friends. YOU can be the light to those around you who are struggling. No matter the way, shape, or form, there is a deeper purpose intended for you, in the life of those with cancer or other disabilities. That purpose doesn't have to take up your whole day. It doesn't mean you HAVE to cook. Or drive 90 minutes out of your way to go visit the friend or family member. Place him/her in your thoughts, and figure out a way to reach out. Call or text him/her. Say an intentional prayer. Ask what might be needed. That's all. It really is that simple. It doesn't have to be publicly advertised or posted on social media. It can even be anonymous. Merely become aware/remember how precious a commodity you are, and how needed you are. YOU are the hero! Until next time, Friends...
*Note: Cancer statistics pulled from the following websites: