Saturday, March 20, 2010

Lessons to be learned.

Last night I got an email from Allison saying her friend's Mother donated $500 to her walk. Allison was shocked and humbled by the donation. The Mother was recently diagnosed with Stage IV Breast Cancer. In case you don't know what that means... it's bad.

Allison worried this was a donation they might not be able to afford. Times for them are tough, just like for many these days. They struggle to pay their bills, including health bills. They live in a modest home outside Cincinnati, and the lady has had health problems in the past.

There are so many lessons in this donation for all of us. Answers to questions like:

Why does someone donate?

What does it mean to someone who has Cancer to see people
willing to fight on their behalf?

How can you empower those who are fighting for their very lives?

Are there people who are just not candidates for donating?

Fundraising ,for anything and most everyone, is nerve wracking. Over the years I have been involved in fundraising for schools, politics and various causes. The most personal of all this "charity" work has been the 3 day walk. But when the organizers set a target for all walkers to earn $2300 , they go one step further. They say, when you sign up you will guarantee that amount. At the time you first read that amount it seems to be impossible. After all this is a down economy. How do you ask someone to donate when $$$ is so tight. Well, Allison's recent donation answers many of these questions in no uncertain terms.

Why does someone donate?

The answer is you never know. For one person they may be lucky enough to be selecting charities to support as an offset to income in the tax year. For another, they may be thinking of a friend (the one walking or another) who may have battled cancer. For another, they may be in the middle of the fight for their lives. They may feel powerless in the face of their diagnosis. Their donation and support of the 3 day walk can rightfully give them the feeling , they are doing something about it. I cannot tell you how powerful this is. The feeling of having some say over Cancer, when it is threatening your life is as important as good nutrition or cutting edge drugs. To fight this battle you have to be mentally strong. You have to KNOW you will win. For the woman with stage IV cancer, her donation says, I may not be able to walk with you this year, but I am with you.

What does it mean to someone who has cancer to see people fighting on their behalf?

Well, on this question I can speak personally. You need to put your eyes on the step directly in front of you when you are battling Cancer. When you know there are others supporting you, it allows you the freedom of focus. You feel lifted up and cared for. To see others walking 60 miles over 3 days in cities throughout this country, you feel as if there are people out there who "get it." They understand this is a matter of life or death. You wish you could join them, but you know they understand why you can't. You look at these people as your angels on earth. are very very grateful.

If you know someone fighting Cancer, how can you empower them for their fight?

Surprisingly you can do as small a thing as call or stop by for a visit. When I was fighting cancer, had a friend come and wash my hair, another rub oil on my newly bald head, dozens who made meals for me, others who gave me CDs for meditation, others with cards and those who wrote poetry. I was surrounded by flowers and love and support. I knew my fight was not just for me, but for them. We are in this together. There was one woman who walked for me, in my name at the Revlon Breast Cancer Walk in LA, bringing me back a survivor medal and hat. I felt humbled. I learned one of my biggest life's lessons. It is a gift to others to allow them the honor of supporting you. After that day, asking for help became easier. Providing the opportunities to give help is a gift to many people. You cannot be so self involved as to believe you know better than they do what support they may be able or willing to provide. There may be very compelling human reasons why giving this help is important to someone else. And so, this brings us to the next question.

Are there people who should not be asked to donate?

The simple and clear answer is no. You never know who wants to donate or why. You cannot make that decision for anyone else. If the woman with Breast Cancer had not been told by her daughter about Allison's walk, she may not have been able to do something that I know has empowered her for her fight. The gentleman who saw my shirt and handed me $5 because I reminded him of an old girlfriend who died from Cancer, or the survivors who have honored me with donations. All of us know people who have fought Cancer. Too many we have seen lose their fight. Each time we donate to an organization of such significance as Susan G Komen we know we have a voice. We have a voice about whether or not Cancer will take anyone else. We are moving closer and closer to a day that Cancer will not kill those we love. A world without Cancer.

So if I have asked you and you are not feeling you can donate, please understand I am not asking to make you feel bad. I am just providing you the opportunity to make that choice yourself. I would feel as if I had totally discounted and dishonored you to not ask. So....

If you would like to donate, please click on the link on the side of this page. or HERE

Thank you to the woman from Cincinnati who donated to our walk. You have humbled me, and I will have just that much more reason to keep on walking.

If I get permission I will post a link to the blog Allison's friend is keeping for her Mom.

Her fight is why we are walking. We are walking for her.