I'm not one for public spectacle of every possible little problem that we face as humans. Aren't you sick the many solicitations you get either over the phone or in person to sponsor someone in the next greatest Walk For Something?
So when my wife told me that she was going to enter us in the American Cancer Society Relay for Life Walk, I wasn't too excited. Of course we have to raise money for this and other illnesses but something rubs me the wrong way when I have to ask my friends to give me money to sponsor me in a walk. If they want to give on their own then fine.
But, being in the ad business, I should know that the only way to make people aware of something is to create a spectacle.
And a spectacle it was.
I have to admit that after going, it was a good thing. I tell myself no one would be there if they didn't have some stake in this illness. I can't even tell you how many people have come up to me following my cancer and told me that they either had it at one time or someone they knew had it. It's incredibly pervasive.
For me, cancer was always something that happened to someone else or something you saw in a weepy movie. It would never affect my life. Well, you don't control as much of your life as you think.
I will tell you that it was very difficult to hold back the tears when I took the Survivors lap around the track at Ayer Highschool. Hundreds of people had camped out for the 20 hour event and every single person was applauding us the entire 1/4 mile loop as we slowly paraded ourselves around prior to the start of the Walk. We even had the ubiquitous hairless Cancer Kid leading the parade. Now that may sound harsh as I have always thought it was such an abuse of a child and a shameful tactic at awareness. But, after walking that lap behind that child and his mother and his Aunt, it just seemed so right. I'm 40 and a survivor of colon cancer. That child was not more then 8 years old! It puts all things in perspective.
So I am glad I finally crawled out of my "it's nobody's business" cave and shared in all the emotions that the event blessed us with. Cancer is killing us. Chemotherapy is a "dumb" drug that kills all cells that are like cancer cells which is why so many people have those awful side effects. The good cells are being killed with the bad. But there are actual "smart" drugs in trial use now that know to go after the "bad" cells and leave the "good" ones alone. Very soon, Cancer will be cured by swallowing a pill. We are not there yet. But with time, money, and the amazing effort I witnessed at the Relay For Life, that pill may see the light of day.
So I am glad I did it.