Here are Shasta and Shiloh modeling their YELLOW raincoats to show their support for LIVESTRONG! I wish they had been a part of my family years before when I lost my mom to colon cancer and then my dad about 10 and a half years later to lung cancer. My mom battled the cancer beast for almost 5 years before the beast won at last even though my mom fought a very tough battle. My dad was diagnosed with lung cancer less than 2 months before he died - when it was found, the cancer beast had already spread to several areas of his body and was told treatment - radiation or chemo (surgery was not an option due to how widespread the cancer was) - would only prolong his life a few short months and his quality of life would be compromised. Years before he watched helplessly as my mom went through countless treatments, surgeries and pain - he made the determination that he did not want that and us kids wholly supported his decision even though we knew what it meant.
I wish I could say losing both of my parents was the only connection I had with cancer but it isn't. Many years ago, when I was still in my late teens, one of my uncles who lived in Colorado at the time, was diagnosed with lung cancer. Since we were living in Kansas, we were not around much but I remember when during one summer we visited them and he was showing us the pattern that the radiology techs followed during his radiation treatment. It wasn't long until we visited again only it was only my aunt (his widow) and her two children we visited. Then several years later, but only a few months before my mom died that I lost another uncle to lung cancer. He also struggled and fought hard but it was shortly before Christmas that the cancer beast won. About 3 years before that, one of my aunts died from breast cancer. In 1976, while I was in the hospital for surgery to remove a non-cancerous brain tumor, my aunt was having a mastectomy. After her surgery, she fought hard to live to see her youngest son graduate high school - she made it but not much longer. Then, just about two years ago, one of my cousins, although the cancer diagnosis was never firmly established but suspected and so many other possible diagnosis were ruled out - it was not surprising when she passed away shortly after she entered the hospice and I felt fortunate that Shiloh and I were welcomed there during this difficult time for the family.
Then there are the co-workers - the ones who have fought the good fight but eventually, could fight no more. Now, one of those co-workers is also a close friend of mine who was diagnosed with breast cancer and has gone through the usual treatments and surgery - she is doing well now. Several people who attend the same church I do have been forced, in some way, to have been touched by the cancer beast. We have lost members of the church due to cancer or their spouse or son or daughter - there are members living and surviving with it.
Finally, I have a very personal connection with cancer - melanoma to be more specific. It was almost 11 years ago when I got that diagnosis after a large mole on my face was removed. The thing that is the scariest about melanoma - one never realizes unless they have done the research - just how serious a melanoma diagnosis can be. True, in it's simplest form - the mole - most people think that when melanoma is discovered early and removed then that's the end of it. While this might be true in some cases and so far it is with me, like with all cancers, it only takes that one cancer cell to spread internally. There are so many people, especially young adults who think "Oh, that's just skin cancer" - cancer of any kind is still cancer; it can affect any and all areas of the body, inside and out. Melanoma does NOT confine itself to just the skin although the name may change - like adenocarcinoma of a certain major organ of the body. People need to be educated - made aware and that is the mission of