How I Support the Fight Against Cancer

By | June 27, 2016
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I decided to go with something a little different for this post, mostly because of a recent experience I had and some past experiences.  I wanted to write a little about how I support the fight against cancer.  Before I get into this though, I want to point out that while this article is mostly just my own experience supporting the fight against cancer, this topic can apply to any life saving cause out there.

A Little Background

cancer-awarenessCancer is a worldwide threat that has been at the forefront of medical research for a long time.  While there has been a lot of progress made in understanding the various types of cancer, and even some progress made in preventing a few of these types, there has been no major breakthrough for finding a cure for cancer as a whole.  While we wait for such a day to come many of us are faced with the terrible realities of cancers devastating impact on family life.

I have had many experiences with cancer throughout my life, both personal experience and vicarious experience through loved ones.  I come from a fair skinned genetic history, and because of this I have watched both my father, my mother, and my oldest brother go under the knife to remove various amounts of skin cancer.  I had an experience as well a few years ago when I had a tumor removed from the side of my forearm that has left me with a nice divot in that arm.  While none of these have been too serious, it still isn’t enjoyable to have parts of your body carved away and be left with scars and in some cases plastic surgery.

Hap whittlesAnother experience I had was about 14 years ago when I witnessed my grandfather pass away after a long battle with lung cancer.  He was a smoker most of his life, right up till the end actually.  He also did some work in his younger years that exposed him to asbestos inhalation.  In those younger years he was also a military man, who served as a deep sea diver in the navy during World War 2.  He would go down into the sunken ships and retrieve the bodies of his fallen comrades so that they could receive a proper burial.  If any of you know much about deep sea diving during that time, you would know that it took a special kind of person to be able to do that, let alone go into a sunken ship filled with the horrific scenes of battle.  He was also an undefeated boxer for the navy, who had the privileged of holding the South Pacific Champion title.  He was an extremely hard worker who, after the war, went on to build ships as a welder and did various other types of hard manual labor.  He was a caring husband and a loving father to three children.  As a grandfather, he was an exceptional man that made his grandchildren a top priority whenever they came to visit.  He also was the type of person that would never turn a blind eye to those in need.  He constantly went out of his way to help those that were in a rough spot.  I could go on and on about all the amazing qualities my grandfather had, but I think that is enough to at least paint a picture of the strong and caring individual that he was.

It wasn’t really a surprise to us when we found out he had lung cancer.  As a family, we all rallied together and offered our support as he went in for treatments and eventually surgery.  Having most of his lung removed took its toll on him, as it would anyone else.  He was no longer able to go out to his yard and do all the yard work, landscaping, and DIY projects that he had before.  He found himself tired and winded after doing just day to day chores.  Tasks that he would normally do with ease, he was now having to schedule time with his grandsons to come and get done.  While he kept a positive outlook on things, it was clear to all the levels of frustration he was facing with his sudden change in lifestyle.  Not too long after the operation, during his checkups, they found that the cancer to his lungs had returned and spread to various other parts of his body.  Faced with a difficult decision of continuing the fight through chemotherapy or letting the cancer take him, he chose to accept the fate his cancer had brought upon him.  He was told that with the current rate of spreading he probably didn’t have long before the cancer took him.  It wasn’t long after that we had hospice care for him, and he was literally withering before our eyes.  This once strong and proud man had, in a matter of a month or so, crumbled to become frail and in constant pain.  It was something that none of us ever thought was possible for such a person as my grandfather.

The Run for Hope

20160625_090725Since that experience, I have had others within my family and extended family pass on due to cancer.  It has made me determined to help find a cure before my own children are faced with a similar tragic experience.  So, on top of supporting through donation to various cancer treatment causes, I have started to show my support be running 5k and 10k’s whenever I have the chance.  This last weekend was my first 10k run and it was a fantastic experience for me.  My wife and I arrived early on Saturday morning at the starting line and got underway when the race started.  Normally I set a faster pace than her, but this time we decided to stick together and just take slow.  I admit, this was mostly due to doing literally no preparation at all for this race, and the fact that I had developed a nasty head and chest cold the day before.  I wasn’t going to let that stop me from being there though.  I walked and jogged with my wife for the entire 6.2 miles.  I hacked and coughed, while she complained about her knee that had been giving her problems, but we continued to set our pace of 13:30 per mile.  After an hour and twenty minutes we finally both crossed the finish line, running slightly faster for our finish as we were cheered on by the crowd supporting the runners.  I was tired.  My lungs and throat4f6cb23440c2f0128f5aa80b3106693f6d928458b842688dc3d83a5578acd082 ached and burned.  I felt amazing.  Not just because I finished the race, but as I looked around at the crowd I saw just how many people had also come to support such a cause.  In the end they were able to raise over $240,000 from this single event.  I’m proud that both my wife and I could be a part of it.

So now I want to ask you, my wonderful readers, have you had any experiences like the one I have shared with you?  Do have any causes that you support?  Or maybe you just want to leave a comment on my experience?  I would love to read your comments and experiences, so please leave them in the section below!

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