Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Familiar Ground

Life is full of challenges. I just wrote a long entry about my day yesterday and it disappeared, just like that. We think we have it all figured out and then something we don't expect robs us of our certainty. Funny, yesterday was sort of like that.

I was given the ok to come and visit the family whose daughter has just had brain surgery. She is doing remarkably well. She is dancing and singing and jumping around just like the 2 year old she is. Her brothers are playing along side being little boys. Her parents are hanging in there, albeit sometimes by a thread. The grandparents are helping out making meals and rest possible. The final diagnosis of what kind of Cancer the tumor was, is hanging like a threatening cloud ready to turn into a funnel that could morph into a tornado. All is as it is... not as it should be.

When I came into the house the kids were at the park. This is completely amazing to me knowing the surgery was only a week ago. When the kids came in they were excited to see me. (They may have heard that I was bringing a surprise for them.) They stood expectantly, politely (as these kids always are!) as I pulled out first a GIANT'S shirt for the younger boy. "I hope you like Cody Ross, because he is an awesome player!" Bright eyes and an enthusiastic smile told me it was a good pick. Then I looked at the older boy (going into 1st grade next year) and said "And you... I thought you should be the "Freak!" Lincecum!" Very quietly but with a huge smile he said"He's my favorite!" Then I looked at this little girl who with the most amazing smile on earth looked up at me, "You, you need something a little different though... I think, for you, you need a PANDA!" And I pulled out a Pablo Sandoval Panda hat with small baseballs hanging from the flaps. A giggle and wiggle followed. "I think she likes it," said her Mother.

Looking at the kids, I see things as how they should be. Looking at this little girl there is no way you would suspect she has had Cancer. Looking at her it seems a violation to even speak the word Cancer.

As parents we feel responsible for every disappointment, danger and pain our child feels. Somehow we think that our instruction book on how to be a perfect parent was missing when we took that little bundle home from the hospital, because inevitably, things do happen. And each one of these times we take as a failure somehow on our part. Still today, when our daughters are sad or have had a disappointment I fight an urgent need to try and make it better. (I have learned there is only so much power I have...and I can't make everything better.) Sometimes things just happen. Life happens. Cancer happens.

That doesn't mean I like it. It doesn't even mean I have to accept it. You can tell that I definitely DO NOT accept that Cancer just has to happen. What I am trying to do every time I lace up the shoes and head out the door to train is simple... I am trying to END Cancer. And there I think is the only sanity we can have in situation like this. The sanity won't ever come from looking back. "If only I did ...xyz, then maybe ...." No, that doesn't do anyone any good. We start to deal with Cancer (when it rears it's ugly head) by putting one foot in front of the other, minute by minute, step by step.

The Mom said to me, "I can't imagine what I would be like if my daughter wasn't doing as well as she is right now, because I am just hanging on." I told her, she is like me, she would find in herself whatever was necessary to get herself and her family through it. She is a tough Breast Cancer Survivor like me... she knows what it means to go moment by moment, step by step. When I was in the fight of my life I didn't feel like I had the luxury of falling apart. I had two little girls and a husband who needed support through MY Cancer. I can only imagine what it feels like the other way around.

Right now its the waiting game and that is the hardest thing to endure. There is very little you can do but wonder and worry. The final pathology report will tell whether this tumor is benign and gone forever or malignant. Whatever it turns out to be, I know this little girl will be alright. She is made of the same stuff as her parents. She is wise and strong and optimistic. This little girl believes that good things are around the corner and she is right.

For me, my focus has changed. While I went through my treatment my focus of necessity had to be very short, right in front of my feet. Now, I put my eyes on the horizon. Cancer may just happen, but it doesn't have to stay that way. Those people who believe the same way are doing something about it. It makes me think of the Dr. whose patient had an aggressive form of Breast Cancer. She was young and as many younger Breast Cancer victims, wasn't diagnosed until very late. This made the Dr. angry and frustrated. She took that anger and frustration and poured it into her work. She developed a new screening technique that diagnoses 3xs more cancer in young women than previous techniques. THAT is how we are going to end Cancer. We are going to end it when we say "THAT IS ENOUGH!" We'll end it when our anger and frustration leads us to find a cure.

Seeing this little girl and her family left me even more determined to do what I can to end Cancer. I am not a scientist or doctor. But I know how to walk. I know how to raise funds. I know how to not take NO for an answer. I know how to never give in... and I know that even one person can make a difference. Will you help me? Are you angry and frustrated with Cancer? Have YOU had enough? If you are do what you can...


Or visit someone who needs lifting up look in their eyes and let them know it will be okay.

You can make a difference.