I’ll be honest in saying I really don’t like cancer. It has taken too many sweet, young, and innocent lives. It’s attacked too many people that I know and love. It shook my world upside down last year when my boyfriend was diagnosed with it at the age of 20. Putting that aside, I have learned that there is in fact something that cancer is teaching us…
Importance of “Unity” in “Community“
I have probably attended at least 15 different events over my short lifetime benefiting some kind of cancer prevention or research. If I had to guess an exact number, I’ve probably raised somewhere in the range of $20,000 to $25,000 for various cancer organizations. I do believe that fundraising is important, and has its place. I do believe that people have benefited from the work I put in to raise money.
However – I think it is often times easy for us to get lost in feeling that fundraising (or donating money) is the only way we are able to give or help. Especially when fundraising gets turned into “competition” or a means to advertise for certain organizations… people begin to lose sight of what it is they are supporting and why.
It is scientifically proven that people diagnosed with cancer who have close families, friends, relationships, and a supportive community around them are more likely to survive.
“You give but little when you give of your possessions. It is when you give of yourself that you truly give.” -Kahlil Gibran
I just write this message today for people who feel they have nothing to give, or shouldn’t attend an event because they haven’t raised money. EVERYONE is capable of giving their time to simply be there. To show support, and to join together as a community. To me, this is the most important thing that you can give.
My eyes literally fill with tears when I think of the times where people that I least expected showed up to an event simply to show support. It’s one thing to support something by “Liking” it on Facebook, donating money, or even fundraising money. But to physically BE there means a million times more to me than anything else. Humans need each other. It is in our nature. Over my lifetime knowing people who have had cancer – those who we have lost and those who we have been blessed to keep… I think of the people that surrounded them, who rallied together in support of them. Those are some of the sweetest and most powerful memories that I have. Theunity we created within our community has not only saved lives – but it has hugely helped caregivers and family members of those with cancer feel supported as well.
I can say from experience that supporting my boyfriend after he was diagnosed with cancer while I was in school, yoga teacher training, and going through a stressful period in my life among other things was an extremely difficult task. But the first thing I did was to create a Relay for Life team for him. I knew that building a communiy, a support group – for him, myself, and his family would help all of us get through that time together, and it did. I cannot say enough about how grateful I was not just for the people who signed up, but for the people who came. The people who were physically there for us.
Cancer Is Teaching us That We are All Connected
I feel safe to assume that almost everyone reading this post either has had cancer, was a caregiver for someone with cancer, or in some way knows someone who has (or has had) cancer. Despite how different our experiences were – many of us have (in some way) been affected by cancer. Just simply this idea teaches us that we’re all connected. We’re all part of this same web of life, and we’re in it together. Imagine if this wasn’t the case – if those who experienced cancer (or any other disease for that matter) were on their own. There is a new study I just read that suggests loneliness is as equally unhealthy for you as smoking. Cancer has brought communities and families together – which in itself is healing.
So if you’re one of the people who is reading this and wondering how you can help – forget money for today. Consider physically giving your time. Come to Relay for Life on May 12th @ 2:00pm at the University of Washington (Dempsey Field). This is an opportunity for us to “Celebrate. Remember. And Fight Back.” — together.
“There is one thing we do know: that we are here for the sake of each other – above all for those upon whose smile and well-being our own happiness depends, and also for the countless unknown souls with whose fate we are connected by a bond of sympathy. Many times a day I realize how much my own outer and inner life is built upon the labors of my fellow men, both living and dead, and how earnestly I must exert myself in order to give in return as much as I have received.” – Albert Einstein
The last thing I have discovered, is that…
Cancer is Teaching us What We Have
Cancer can take away a lot of things physically – but it has no power over our ability to connect, to love, to support, and to fight back with the power of community. Even for those that we have lost, cancer teaches us that we have each other. That we have opportunities to help our lost loved ones, by helping those that are still here today. Cancer cannot take our faith, our hope, or our love.
Cancer teaches us that no matter what, we will always have love.
And love always wins.
Shout out to those I love who have been directly affected by cancer…
- My Best Friend and Love of My Life – Reid Backstrom
- My Fearless Grandma Betty
- My Dear Friend and Tennis Teammate – Diana Guo (you had a light in you that I will never forget, you are so missed)
- My 9th Grade Science Teacher – Paige Cahoon (you are the reason i got involved in supporting cancer research, thank you, you are missed)
- My 10th Grade Biology Teacher – John Tripp (you were a true fighter and I miss talking to you about yoga – you are missed)
- My Fellow Yoga Teacher Trainee – Kristal (you were an inspiration for me last year and continue to be to this day)
- Many, many, many more friends of friends, and friends of family, and family of friends - you are an inspiration to us all.