It has been a while since I shared in this space. Our world has become very agitated, on all levels and much of my daily bandwidth has been internally focused on family, friends, and our country. This week, my attention has been re-centered on my own personal activism, ending cancer in my lifetime. Then I wake up this morning, reminded of this cause, by World Cancer Day.
But first, a call-to-action. Or maybe better said, a call-to-activism.
What I strongly believe is that the world is a better place when we are inspired by a cause to make it better. We may differ in what the cause is… doesn’t matter. What if each of us could have the passion and commitment to rally for a group of people in need or the betterment of our civilization, and if we could attempt to leave our planet in a better place when we leave than when we were born, and if we could take the baton from the generation before and give it to the next knowing that we made a difference, then we could really get some amazing things accomplished. Being an advocate and an activist is more than just writing a check. That is called being a donor or supporter – which are still important roles. But without the activist, there are no donors. Without the activist, there are no causes. Without the activist, our culture and society will not move forward. I ask you, what is your cause? Find one. Develop your voice. Inspire me to support you. Become an activist!
And now back to my cause….
This week, I crossed paths with our cancer enemy in many ways.
- Sunday: We delivered a meal to a family that is battling breast cancer. It gave us a chance to check in and see what else we can do to help. And to listen.
- Monday and Tuesday: I kicked my PMC training for 2017 into high gear with some long training sessions. As I spin, I think about all those I have been riding for and about my fellow Living Proof riders.
- Thursday: We learned that a family friend passed away after a long battle. Devastating news for all of us.
- Friday: I got two bits of good news – a dear friend celebrated her sixth cancer-versary (aka 6th year from her diagnosis) and a Forza-G teammate learned that she has now 36 months cancer free.
And now today, it is World Cancer Day. Maybe you knew that. You probably didn’t. I have spent the last hour or so looking up the latest stats and research. The news on the cancer front is mixed.
Here are a few stats that I’ll bring to your attention:
- The number of people living beyond a cancer diagnosis reached nearly 14.5 million in 2014 and is expected to rise to almost 19 million by 2024. In the U.S., cancer death rates have been dropping since the early 1990s. (Analysis: Research is creating treatments that are saving lives!)
- Approximately 40% percent of men and women will be diagnosed with cancer at some point during their lifetimes. (Analysis: That is 2 out of every 5 people. Yikes!)
- More than 60 percent of the world’s new cancer cases occur in Africa, Asia, and Central and South America; 70 percent of the world’s cancer deaths also occur in these regions. (Analysis: Our advances here in the U.S. have not yet been shared with the developing world. No surprise here.)
So more people are surviving and the death rate is dropping here in the USA. But not everyone is surviving. For many a cancer diagnosis is a death sentence. Sometimes within weeks or months. Sometimes it may take years. Either way, I believe that the diseases that we know as cancer as curable and that we can be part of the generation that made cancer a disease of the past, like small pox and polio for the generations that came before us. So on this World Cancer Day, give a hug to a survivor, you probably know many, do something nice for someone in the midst of treatments, and consider supporting or donating to the research that will make the curing of cancer possible.
As I prepare for my 11th Pan-Mass Challenge, I think about our family friend who is going through cancer treatments, a teammate who recently had surgery to remove her latest cancer threat, and another teammate who lost a sibling to this disease. I won’t stop until the mission is accomplished – to end cancer. This is not a moonshot – ending cancer is a game-changer for all the generations to come. #itstimetoendcancer