I sat watching the World Series game between the Boston Red Sox and my dad’s beloved St. Louis Cardinals. For the 7th inning stretch everyone around the stadium, including all the players, fans, and even those working – the cameramen and umpires – stood holding signs with names on them.
The signs read “Standing up for…”
Many filled in the blank with: Mom, Dad, Grandma, or Grandpa. And as I sat and watched the camera pan the crowd, I couldn’t stop the tears as they welled up in my eyes and slowly spilled over onto my cheeks.
My husband looked at me with his sad, understanding-but-not-really-understanding look that he gives me when I start to cry. He’s not really the crying type.
But I will never forget how his voice broke and tears streamed down his face as he stood at the podium at my dad’s memorial service and shared everything that my dad meant to him. I don’t think there was a dry eye in the place as he shared that we would be naming our third child, still growing in my belly at the time, Blair, after my dad. David Blair Sutton.
My hands shake and the screen is blurry as I type this because I still grieve and ache for my father. He was an amazing man; husband, father, Papa, brother, uncle, doctor, and friend.
It still seems so unfair to me that he was taken from this world. Too soon. He died a week before his 60 birthday. My sisters and I are too young to be without a father. My kids and my nephew are too young to be without their Papa.
But, as much as my grief still weighs down on me, my dad is not the point of this post. What stole him from us is.
Gosh I hate that word.
As I continued to watch all the names on the cards held up in the stadium that night, my tears became hot, my cheeks flushed, and I got mad. Crying, ugly, yelling at the TV mad.
What was the point of it all?! While I’m all for honoring the memory of those we have lost to this horrific disease, how does holding a sign with a name actually do anything to “Stand up to cancer”?! Is it preventing someone somewhere from hearing the words, “I’m sorry, it’s cancer.”? I doubt it.
Honestly, I am so, so sick of all of the “raising money for cancer awareness and research” campaigns that seem to be going on everywhere you turn these days. Stop standing with signs in a stadium, as if it makes a difference.
Stop plastering pink ribbons on everything from food packages to beauty products (which ironically, or not depending on how you look at it, contain toxins and chemicals which may actually cause cancer.) Stop making professional sports players wear pink socks and shoes for Breast Cancer Awareness month in October, as if it prevents a women from hearing that dreaded diagnosis.
Stop giving money to cancer “research”, when who knows what that money is even going toward.
Now it’s November which is known as No-Shave-November and Movember – when guys don’t shave and/or grow a moustache in “support” of Prostate Cancer Awareness month, which is the type of cancer my dad died from.
I’m still trying to figure out how not shaving, or growing a mustache, supports anything except ugly facial hair? As if it keeps a man from getting prostate cancer. (News flash: it doesn’t. My dad had a pretty sweet ‘stache.)
I’m so sick of all of it because, hello, we’re all pretty damn well aware of cancer. I think every person reading this has been touched by cancer, whether in their immediate or extended family or someone very close to them. Cancer is everywhere.
We don’t need to be made more aware of it. We cannot get away from it.
We cannot get away from it because statistics show that one out of two men, and one out of three women, will develop cancer in our lifetime. That’s not very good odds. Around 1.6 million people will be diagnosed with cancer and around 577,000 people will die of the disease this year.
The problem is that we’ve been fighting the “war on cancer” for over 40 years and have very little, if anything, to show for it, except for skyrocketing treatments costs.
The problem is that we are spending upwards of $124 billion to treat cancer in the US every year. And treatment basically consists of the same cut, poison, and burn method that’s been relatively ineffective for the past 50 years.
One of the newer prostate cancer treatments called Provenge, which my dad actually received in the fall before he died, costs close to $100,000 and has only been shown to extend life expectancy by 4 months.
Would I want to give those 4 months that I had with my dad back (if the treatment did in fact work in that sense)? Of course not.
But I also can’t help but think that there has to be a better way.
I can’t go back and undo my dad’s diagnosis, treatment, and death. But I can do something to move forward in a different way. Standing up to cancer in a way that puts an emphasis on prevention and cure, and not just “awareness and research”.
And so I’ve begun reading and researching about the cancer industry, treatment, and alternative treatments. It is like an unbelievably deep and dark rabbit hole. But I’m standing over that hole, and I’m ready to jump. I hope to be able to share with you what I’m learning in the coming weeks and months.
How has your life been touched by cancer?
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