LIVESTRONG is my way of fighting back against a disease that has affected too many of my friends and members of my family.
I became actively involved in the fight against cancer in 2008, but my personal vendetta
toward the disease goes back to my very early childhood with the loss of my great-aunt Helen, to lung cancer. I don’t remember her well, but I do remember that I wanted to spend all of my time with her when she came to town to visit, and she taught me about “Eskimo kisses,” which years later, I taught my own children. Several years later, when I was in the seventh grade, one of my
favorite teachers missed several months of school while battling testicular cancer. The following year, my grandma was taken by cancer, after months and months of slowly losing her quality of life to the dreadful disease.
A teenager is supposed to have life in the palm of his hand, not be in the fight of his life, right? In high school, a dear friend (thankfully!) triumphed over testicular cancer, which had also affected his lymph nodes. A few years later, in college, cancer reared its ugly head again, not once, but twice: my sister’s skin cancer diagnosis and the death of a marching band colleague and would-be fraternity-sister to leukemia. I really didn’t know her well, but it struck me that we had just begun to get to know each other and become friends, and then she was gone.
A few years later, just as I had begun my first year of teaching, one of the biggest inspirations of my musical/educational career fell ill. Pneumonia, they said. Three weeks later he was gone. Cancer. The epitaph on his headstone reads, “Though the voice is gone, the spirit lingers still.” I know many who would attest to this truth. Eight more years passed until my dad was diagnosed. A few months later, at an event to honor cancer survivors, I met a woman. She had just been diagnosed and was having surgery the next day. I am thankful that we formed an instant bond, and that our friendship continues to flourish today.
In the years since, it just seems like cancer has spun out of control. It is everywhere. I’ve lost far
more friends and acquaintances than I care to count to this senseless disease. But I do count them - all of them - each and every one. Friends from college, friends from high school, just friends. Cousins, in-laws, teachers, mentors, students. Cancer is equal-opportunity; cancer does not discriminate.
Haven’t you ever wondered, why, with all of modern science, medicine and technology, cancer has become more widespread, rather than less? The survival rates from cancer have increased, and so have the number of occurrences. And those numbers are expected to continue to rise. Astronomically. But why? I don’t have the answers, but I do have a few theories, which is why I try to live a chemical-free, organic lifestyle. And it’s also the reason why I volunteer for the LIVESTRONG Foundation and ride with Team LIVESTRONG-RAGBRAI.
You can help me help those affected by cancer with a tax-deductible donation to the LIVESTRONG Foundation. If one person can fight cancer, together we can defeat it.