Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Tonight We Walked~

A friend, after discovering she had breast cancer, 
began to navigate all of the confusing and frustrating days of 
learning, deciding, treating and hoping
the diagnosis of cancer brings.

She was a person who wanted to help others and saw a need for change
so she organized a group known as
The Arctic Pinkies
and the annual
Walk For the Cure began.

2011 was the 5th year.

The funds raised are divided and dispersed~
Some are sent out to be used for those in research striving to find a cure.
Some are used for local families and programs that support them.
Still other funds are used to help with patient care while they are in Nome,
a special treatment chair, blanket warmers, meditation room, etc.

This year the night of the walk was particularly emotional...

A father told about his son who was diagnosed with cancer in his eye at 6 months old.
He is two now and after completing a newer, less invasive treatment,
he seems to be doing great.
A women told of her battle with one type of cancer 5 years ago, to be told she was cured 
and then surprisingly last year,
she went to have a bruise looked at and was told she had a totally unrelated kind,
which she just finished treatment for.

We all thought of Chris 
who inspired us as she dealt with her breast cancer,
and beat it,
only to be surprised afterwards by the diagnoses of colon cancer.
She missed last year's walk while she was in Anchorage dealing with that,
and this year's walk was
in her memory,
as well as the too many others lost to all devastating cancers.

The small, but mighty Chris
 had been dissatisfied when she first went for treatment,

--the facilities were too small,
and the staff people too few for the number of patients
at the hospital in Anchorage--

so she began a letter campaign to change that.
She never knew it, but after her passing
her husband received a letter from her former doctor.
That hospital now has a more doctors,
support staff,
and facilities
dedicated to cancer patients!

Looking around at the large group there for the walk
I was astounded.
For such a small spot on the map, there were so many stories of cancer touching each of them.

But, there was also hope
a determination to do what we could to change outcomes.
Memories, smiles, tears and hugs shared.

In one of our last chats, Chris told me how her helping 
others newly diagnosed and dealing with cancer
was a positive step. 
She wanted what she had been through to make a difference.

And so we were there, 
bundled up in the evening sun,
many with ice cleats on their shoes.
Ribbons, colors and banners
declaring our intent.

Stepping out and walking together.

As Chris would end her notes.....


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