I haven't blogged in a long time.
I spent the better part of September cheating on my blog. I was reading a blog. Not my blog. Another blog. Mary Tyler Mom's Blog.
I have never met Mary Tyler Mom in person, instead I was introduced to her via her work on ChicagoNow last Spring. She was a new blogger. I loved the picture of the old fashioned typewriter in her title and I have to admit I absolutely loved Mary Richards and the rest of the newsroom gang up in Minnesota.
Mary Tyler Mom had the same mantra as Richards ... "if she could make it here she could make it anywhere"...
I was instantly drawn to Mary Tyler Mom...her writing was simply amazing. Like me, she typed out words on her computer as a form of therapy. Her daughter had recently lost her battle to cancer and the author found comfort in writing.
Like MTM, I had recently lost a loved one to cancer. I hit the trifecta~my sister-in-law, a friend, and my dad~all within eighteen months. For lack of a better word, cancer sucks. And the only people that understand that are the folks who have lost someone they love to the dreaded big C.
My dad's death took a toll on me. I found writing helped me in a way that is hard to explain. It took me somewhere else. It took me to a place that didn't require me to directly deal with the aftershocks. It helped me grieve.
I wrote about traveling to Phoenix last December to watch him die, last rites administered by a guy that was.not.a.priest, and our last Christmas together as a way to document his life and his death. I did not want to forget one single minute of the last days we spent together. Putting words to paper had a theraputic way about it for me.
I got it out.
This last month I read Mary Tyler Mom's blog about her beautiful daughter, Donna.
This precious baby was diagnosed at 21 months, not expected to live more than a few months, yet somehow survived to celebrate her fourth birthday before the big C finally won its battle.
What a life this kid lived. Donna lived her life until she died. She is an inspiration to those of us who sit back and let life pass us by.
More inspirational than Donna is her mother. She documented the thirty-one months her daughter fought the disease in thirty-one blog entries during the month of September. The ninth month of the year is set aside as Childhood Cancer Awareness Month.
As I read each day I found myself in awe of this Mom. How she found the courage to get out of bed each day was mindboggling to me. I felt guilty. Guilty to think my life was so torn apart because I lost my Dad to the disease. He walked the earth for seventy years...this kid only got four. How is that fair?
In a way, reading this past month was almost as theraputic as the writing has been the past ten months.
The thirty-one entries helped in my grieving process while raising my awareness that others know my pain.
Mary Tyler Mom did just that. She made people aware. Aware of what it is like to watch someone you love suffer from this disgusting, unforgiving disease.
And, as the calendar turns to October another phenomenon is upon us. Breast Cancer Awareness Month. It is Pink-frickin-tastic!
Awareness my ass. October gives any company interested in padding their bottom line a reason to peddle anything pink. Mike's Hard PINK Lemonade? Seriously? It is shameless if you ask me.
Reminds me of a conversation I had with my Dad about a year before he died.
He had just come from the oncologist and called me to let me know he thought he might have offended his cancer doc.
Dad had an appointment for some scans. When the doc entered the room, Dad greeted him with "How's Business?".
Dad, like me, looked at Cancer as a business. A business far too big to fail. For if it did, the economy as we know it would crumble should a cure ever be found.
Think of all the people that would be out of a job should word hit the press that a "cure" has been found. Cancer docs, radiologists, chemo schedulers, drug salesmen, wig makers, scarf designers, and all those in the marketing department who live for October to sell all things pink to "raise awareness".
Raise your hand if you ever bought a container of yogurt promising to give a dime back to cancer research. Stand up if you bought something because a pink ribbon adorned the packaging promising cash-ola to research. Wink if you ever wrote a check to someone participating in a cancer walk.
When I think of all the money raised in the last ten years all in the name of cancer research I scratch my head in wonder. All that money...in the name of research...and people like MTM are still losing their children to the disease.
Sure, cancer is not quite the death sentence it was say twenty years ago. I'll admit researchers and scientists have come quite a long way in putting off the inevitable. Sure there are more survivors now than ever. But a cure? Wiping this beast out--completely?
Perhaps I am cynical. Yep. Or still grieving. Probably. I prefer to call myself a realist. Really.
Think about it for just a minute~say an answer to this crap is found. Millions of people would be out of work, no?
Now, please don't get me wrong. I highly doubt any nurse chooses oncology for the paycheck. Every nurse that took care of my Dad was an angel in disguise. His doctors ~ completely dedicated. The scientists out their searching for a cure are driven.
My beef is with the companies out there lining the shelves with "pink stuff" this month. Unlike the doctors and nurses and scientists, I think they sell the "stuff" with a pink cancer ribbon because they know there are people out there who think they can make a difference by buying it.
Reading Mary Tyler Mom's blog this past month has inspired me. Her goal in September was to raise awareness regarding Childhood Cancer...and that she did.
Tomorrow she is going to share information about ways people can help. Donna's Good Things is a website where people can "do".
I am a "do-er". Instead of throwing money to this cause or that cause and not ever being fully aware as to where it actually "falls", I prefer to do.
Think of all the things we can "do" for cancer patients and their caregivers to make their load just a bit lighter.
Make dinner for a neighbor who is too exhausted after a round of chemo~her family is hungry...but she is too tired. Get the name of a fellow parishoner at church who is sick and offer to clean their house or mow their lawn or hang their Christmas lights.
I'm sure you know someone who is taking care of a parent or sibling who is suffering from this awful disease. Offer to watch their kids while they take an hour or two off. Caregivers get burned out they need time to regroup and rest.
Head over to a hospice or oncology wing and sit with a patient who might be a stranger. My Dad's hospice nurse told us the saddest story after he died. She told us Dad was the only patient on the floor to have a visitor during his time there. Sadly, most of her elderly patients were merely dropped off never to be visited again. How warped is that?
Have a summer house on the beach? Offer it to a sick kid's family for a few days. Sometimes they just want to get away and just "be" between treatments.
Lend an ear and listen to someone who has suffered from the disease or someone who grieves for the loss of a loved one taken from them far too soon. You don't have to understand...just listen.
Mary Tyler Mom's website asks for volunteers for an Annual New Year's Eve party for children suffering from cancer and their families at Children's Memorial Hospital each year. I put my name on a list to be contacted.
I just want to make a difference.
Thanks to Donna's mom I am aware that this is possible. Reading her daughter's story changed me and inspired me to do better than letting my life pass me by.
I am all for finding a cure for this beast...I'm just not sure buying Mike's Hard Lemonade is going to do it.
Sadly, cancer has become a business...I think that sucks even more than cancer does.