Friday, December 18, 2009

Wait... you don't have cancer?

No, I don't. I've never had cancer. I hope I never will. My (non-existent) spouse does not. Thank G-d, neither do my children. Nor do my parents. An ex-boyfriend, after we broke up, beat testicular cancer. My grandmother died of cancer. My aunt survived breast cancer.

See, that's the question I get asked a lot when I tell people I'm a LIVESTRONG leader and "cancer fighter" and when they ask what kind of cancer I have/had. They expect that I have an amazing story, like I had cancer in all my organs, was doomed to die a slow and miserable death, with odds stacked against me, and I fought and beat cancer and made a miraculous recovery.


That's not me.

So why am I a LIVESTRONG Leader? And why do I seem so dedicated to a cause that is so far from me?

First, cancer isn't that far from you. One in three people around you will have cancer. Russian Roulette dictates you don't know who will get that bullet. Will it be you? Or one of the two people on either side of you? If you, personally, nor someone in your immediate family hasn't had cancer, count your blessings. Welcome to the minority.

Second, because we all know people who have cancer, either currently or in the past, it will touch us many different ways. What have I learned? That this is a disease that I had no idea was so close to me. Once I made people aware that I was involved in LIVESTRONG, I learned that several friends were, somewhat secretly, fighting cancer. They just felt that I didn't need to know so I wouldn't worry. Obviously, being involved in LIVESTRONG you befriend people who are currently battling cancer as well. So, yes, it may seem that, now, my circle of friends includes many more cancer fighters than before. But that may also just be a matter of how many of my friends were willing and open to talk about their battles vs. the LIVESTRONG friends that, clearly, are comfortable discussing it.

Ok. So these are all wonderfully high-level reasons. What's the real reason, the non-socially aware reason why? What drove you to LIVESTRONG in your gut.

I originally started cycling for the same reasons many people start doing things that seem out of the norm. To impress a boy. Yes, a grown woman with 2 children is subject to the same childhood stupidity as anyone.

But, as with all good things, this too shall end. And, while the relationship I was working towards didn't work out the way I'd hoped, I was left with one thing - cycling - and as much as I wanted to quit completely, because it reminded me of him, I couldn't. So, I had to try and find another reason, another thing to relate this new hobby to so that I didn't get nauseous everytime I get back on the bike.

I had become involved through a Grassroots effort, peripherally, as a result of a dare by him, so the LIVESTRONG program was already instilled in my thoughts. And I'd started to get involved with it a tad more through Twitter. Then, I met a former LIVESTRONG Challenge mentor, who encouraged me to become a leader. Which I did as soon as I got home.

And then I started speaking with other Leaders. Other LIVESTRONG cancer fighters. I started noticing the LIVESTRONG bands more and more and started to speak to them - we were from a similar pack. I started connecting with more and more people, befriending them, and then finding out that they were battling cancer. Or had just survived it. Or just lost someone to it.

I found my outlet. I found another purpose to continue cycling.

I'll tell you a  secret. Deep down, am I still cycling for the same, original purpose? Yes. My inner child and innermost parts of my heart still hope. (My curse). But it's not the only reason, anymore.

Anyway, I thought I'd share that so, next time, when people ask me "Why do you do so much for LIVESTRONG when you don't have/haven't had cancer?", I can just direct them to this blog.

1 comment:

  1. Just read this. And as a survivor I thank you. This is so incredibly true... It's all around us, and even if a person never experiences cancer directly, he/she will most certainly be affected by it.

    I've found my purpose, as well. So glad you're on the team!


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