This week I have tried to wash the cancer away. I have showered time and time again, scrubbing my skin hoping the events of last week are all a bad dream never to return.
But its not, Cancer has once again seared another indelible brand through the many layers of my flesh and bone. Cancer has burned its way to my core. For cancer leaves loved ones left behind not unlike the aftermath remnants of a city riot .
Pictured here are my sister Anne and brother Frank, both dead from cancer. Frank who just died a few days ago, Anne nine years ago.
Just this last spring my brother in-law Mike Crandall died from complications of Multiple Myeloma.
None of my beloved had anything in common with cancer’s diabolical traits other than where they were raised.
Curiously our family cancer history indicates my mother was the second to die from cancer in my family in 1995. Prior to that my Dad’s father reportedly died of cancer in 1950.
For my large family-seemingly cancer is new.
My generation unfortunately are the pioneers forging new territory and while once known as the baby boomer generation-for surely now we are the cancer generation.
For there is now more cancer not Less Cancer, there are more incidences of cancer and by all accounts the numbers are more not less.
Cancer was the frequent visitor on the block where I grew up in Grosse Pointe Farms Michigan. As a child, early memories as far back as first grade, are of neighborhood mothers who wore wigs and had nurses.
I attended my first wake at the Verheyden Funeral Home at age 7 of a mother of a friend of mine who’s mother was the first I knew to die of cancer.
For those of us that experience loss of this magnitude, there are no pink ribbons, running races, awards or feel good ceremonies sponsored by those thriving companies in the cancer industry, that either treat cancer and or produce products with potential for increasing risk for cancer. I am not embracing our loved ones at the finish line. There are no cheering crowds. We are not sipping Coca-Cola the proud sponsors of the American Cancer Society prevention “Choose You” website or eating Kentucky Fried Chicken the Komen Race for the Cure infamous one time sponsor.
I am painfully reminded this week, that the only people that walk away from these battles of this magnitude intact are the hospital,pharmaceutical companies and even the Wendy’s fast food restaurant that is conveniently located next to the elevator of a cancer center where my brother was being treated.
Its seems so counter-intelligent to have a fast food resturant with risk increasing foods in a cancer center.
For the rest of us we stagger around in grief wondering exactly what happened.
Its confusing as I have met so many loving people who were there to help. From car parkers to nurses- hugs from everyone.
Yet, I find myself hoping that those well intended soldiers left standing will also work towards preventing cancer. I want them to be the leaders so cancer will no longer be that bad guy that that is just too hard to say no to. I want places like cancer centers to have food vendors whose foods work to reduce risk,not increase risk. That the cancer industry will turn themselves around to be the real heros that stop cancer at the cause.
I have been in Detroit now for two weeks, I love the town and I love its people, but none the less a town where I only seem to notice that they have more advertising dollars from obituaries and health care than anything else.
How could this be?
Detroit is the capital for some extrodinary social entrepenuer programing that works to reduce risk for human health and the environment.
However, I now find myself wondering if cancer is the revitalizing industry in Detroit. After all 47% of Detroit is functionally illiterate- almost half of the cities residents cannot read a perscription bottle, directions or a menu. Cancer and poverty are like gas and fire. In my mind reading is the number one prevention tool when it comes to human health.
For me people will often say wow-what about your family Mom, brother in -law, sister,and brother and those are the ones that died of cancer.
The reality is that my family is large, however the statistics are not out of the norm. One in every two men one in ever three women will hear the words you have cancer. And those numbers are looking increasingly more grim.
Yes my family has too much cancer, and so does my neighborhood, my community and my country we now have more cancer than ever before.
Soon it will be Frank’s memorial service and then soon people will get in their cars and drive away – until next time- the next memorial service.
Not this time. It must be different. There must be action.
Speak up today. Ask law makers to include prevention in the cancer conversation and do what you can to reduce cancer causing risks for yourself and your community. -This is everyones fight.
Prevention is not early diagnosis it is Less Cancer all together.
Less Cancer is not going to happen unless you get involved. It must be many voices-many actions for a world of Less Cancer-not more treated cancer.