Cancer is the most egalitarian of all diseases. It does not discriminate on the basis of skin color, religion, social status or age. If you have ever sat in a cancer hospital, and I hope you haven’t, you know what I mean. For those of you who haven’t, let me describe what you’ll see as you look around the room. You’ll see men who used to stand tall and strong, bent and in pain, shuffling slowly by with the aid of a spouse who carries the full weight of responsibility for something she never expected on her shoulders. You’ll see a woman, a wife and mother, with her arms featuring the trademark bruising from too many IV’s and blood draws than she can remember. A few seats down is the teenager who last fall played on his school’s varsity football team who now sits quietly, looking emaciated and frail, peering out of hollow eyes from beneath the knit cap he wears to mask the fact that he has lost his hair. And over in a corner is a young couple hiding their fear behind thin smiles as their stricken daughter looks up at them for the assurance that everything will be alright.
Cancer is also a family disease. While it attacks the victim it reaches out to extract its toll from their loved ones as well. A spouse leaves their job to become a caretaker. A grandparent takes responsibility for caring for a teenage niece since her parents have been forced to move to another city to obtain treatment. A teenager who hates being the kid at school with the “sick dad”, wonders if this man who she hardly even recognizes now will see her graduate from high school.
Cancer is a harsh taskmaster. It does not give up without a price. It insists on a hard bargain. It gives you your life but you must give something back in return. Your life may be spared but it will never be quite the same.
Cancer is a scourge. Its reign of terror has gone on far too long. Through the generosity of people like you new discoveries and strides continue to be made to help us bring it to heel. Six years ago my sister’s daughter was diagnosed with melanoma. She was lucky. Her life was spared. To give back to others less fortunate and to help raise money to fund the research that results in the successful treatment of patients like my niece, our family sponsors a charity golf tournament every year. We donate the proceeds to various cancer-related organizations (http://www.maritmelanomafund.com/). As we prepare to host our event this year I ask you to please help eradicate this disease through the gift of your time and or money. On behalf of all of us who have been touched by cancer, please let me say thank you for consideration and compassion.