Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Why the Traveling hook

Hey all. I've not received the hook yet, and hope that all is well with Jazziblu but I wanted to post why I was so eager to participate in this project. Here you go:

My first encounter with this scourge we call cancer was at a young age.
I was 17 and beginning my senior year in high school. Months before that, my father was diagnosed. It was a whirlwind for my family and within months, too few months actually, my father died on Aug. 31, 1988, what was to be the second day of my senior year in high school. What we went through was confusing, but a learning experience: the diagnosis, the illness, the end. What we went through after was amazing.
Led by the strongest woman I’ve ever met, my mother, my family made it. We survived the diagnosis, the treatment (including cobalt therapy) and the death. Because of my mom, we persevered. I remember sitting there, on my father’s hospital bed, swearing he was still breathing, and saying out loud “there’s no more reason to go on.” It was after 3 a.m. that day.
My mother, that beautifully spiritual being who put all her trust in her faith (we were Catholic) and, more specifically, the Virgin Mary, proved me wrong. There was plenty of reason to go on. She got a job after being a stay-at-home mom for DECADES and I graduated high school that year, top 10 percent of my class, and went on to college.
Then, more than 4 years in to that venture (I changed majors my fourth year), IT did it again. Cancer struck.
This time, it was my mother. I would find out later she was given only a couple months to live. Never one to prove anyone right, she proved "them" wrong and we lived a roller coaster the next two-plus years. She died Oct. 20, 1995, little more than seven years after my dad and at the same age, 65.
I am here today confident it was her strength that has carried me through. I graduated from college, attending classes while she was being treated and was at her side as much as I could be through all her treatments. 
I consider myself a success, not measured by money earned or material possessions, but because of who she taught me to be and the person I believe I am because of her.
Fastforward please to 2001: That’s when I met Margaret. 
At 72, she was a retired nurse with a remarkable past. Her daughter introduced us and there is no one more thrilled than I that that happened. 
Margaret had been diagnosed with metastasized cancer, origin unknown. 
As a journalist, with her permission, it was my job to chronicle her follow her -- to her death. My bosses and I agreed, the ethics policy was to be followed as much as possible, but there would be times that wouldn’t be possible.
Through it all, I became FAST friends with her oldest daughter who is more like me than she knows.
Margaret died on Feb. 22, 2003. Her passing left a hole, like the deaths of my own parents had.
Fastforward again please to today. That daughter, my friend, is a community representative for the American Cancer Society and she is the “Relay geek” -- Relay for Life that is.
Relay is my summer “thing," -- because of my friend, but also because I believe in it.
I Relay from May to late June like many people golf or boat. It’s a hobby. It’s my “thing.” It’s a verb, a noun. I Relay. I am a Relayer. 
Over the course of six years, I’ve watched our survivors take their first lap after opening ceremonies.
At night, I’ve watched the luminaria ceremony. I’ve participated in that luminaria walk where survivors, their caregivers and those walking “in memory of” take a lap around the track, lighted candles of hope burning brightly against the summer night sky as candles spelling hope light up the bleachers, or a hill, and a song of hope urges us on.
The last couple of Relays, I’ve watched as HOPE on the hill, or in the bleachers, became CURE. That’s what we’re all striving for and that’s why I chose to participate in the Traveling Hook II -- to hook for a cure. 
Thanks to all who have made this possible: Jimbo for the beautiful hook and Angelfire for the organizing of it and all the wonderful crocheters across the US and Canada who said yes to this venture.
Surely someday HOPE will become CURE and we will walk around that track in celebration of that CURE and in honor of everyone who came before it.


Qmare said...

Your post left me breathless... I, too, lost my mom to cancer. Thank you for carrying the torch...

Joyce said...

Thank you qmare. I will keep up the Relays as long as I can, and am invited.

angelfire said...

I think what you do with the relays are amazing, and all I can say is "you go girl". I have lost many loved ones and friends. I am lucky to also have many friends and loved ones survive with the strides that have been made with research. My daughter is part of a study group now and it scares me but I know she is doing what is right for her and her family.