Sunday, June 14, 2009

My friend Brad's blog about OVAC and Mom

Do you ever meet someone and things just click? I met Brad Smith (yes, that is his real name, haha) when I was in DC for OVAC and he is just one of those people who get it. This was before he told me he was from Maine, where Meg and I were married and are vacationing in August. ( that is Brad on the far left)

He is not a cancer survivor, but brings an amazing perspective to this battle. Brad lost his mom to Pancreatic cancer. I have always said that I truly believe that a cancer diagnosis is harder on the family members then the person diagnosed. Of course, my perspective is unique, but I have heard this from a few people. As patients, we are in tune with what is going on with our body and we are the gate keepers...we choose to tell others what we want them to know. Do we put on a happy face even though we really feel like shit? Up to us. Our families know this though. They have zero control over what we are feeling and know that down deep inside we could be keeping things from them.

Anyway, Brad sent me an email tonight that was a reflection on his time in DC. I was moved to tears. It is full of passion and you can truly tell how much this cause means to him. I immediately asked if I could post on my blog. Of course. I hope you enjoy this as much as I did. This is kind of a nice recap of what we were doing in DC as well as how much work is left to be done.

Dear Friends,

It was fantastic to meet everyone down in DC and to unite and work together for a great cause. In keeping with the optimism, the energy and the excitement of the last few days, I wanted to share some thoughts and keep the momentum going.

"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has." ---Margaret Mead

Let those words resonate with you.

We are those people. I have no doubt in my mind. We are those people. We can change the world. Let's say that again: we can change the world.

I ask the question: why wouldn't we, why couldn't we change the world?

My mom died of pancreatic cancer three and 1/2 years ago. She presented with back pain. She looked as healthy and was just as vibrant as you and I. She was told at her first visit: You have at best 6-8 weeks to live without treatment, maybe 6-8 months with treatment. Have you ever been confronted with a no win proposition? Have you ever been asked to play a game that you did not sign up for, where the stakes are your life and you have very little control over the outcome? Have you ever tried to wrap your arms around the phrase, "I'm sorry. There is nothing we can do for you." I had never confronted these questions until my mom's diagnosis and I hope to help prevent others from ever having to face them as well.

My mom lived with grace, dignity and a passion for life that is unparalled. She fought the best she could and she lived her allotted 7 months: diagnosis June 3rd 2005, passed away Feb 5th, 2006. In some ways, while she stood a chance to be in the 1-2% of pancreatic cancer surviors who live greater than 5 years, the deck and the cards were stacked against her from the beginning. In the year 2005, as in 2009, in the United States of America, no matter what cancer you may confront---those figures are unacceptable.

I don't have time to mince words when 1500 die from cancer every other day. I don't have time to standby as people in this country, like my mom, are not being afforded an opportunity at life or the treatments to sustain it. I don't have time to wish that things would have been different when there are new research projects that need to funded, new drugs that need to brought to market and people who need our support, our love and our care as they navigate this disease.

We have been given an extraordinary opportunity to fight for cancer survivors past, present and future. We have been given an opportunity to change the world. With that opportunity comes tremendous responsibility: the responsiblity to tell our stories as often as necessary, the responsiblity to harness and nurture the momentum of OVAC, the responsibilty to be tenacious in our desire to create positive change, and most importantly the responsibilty to never stop caring, never stop loving, never stop believing in the power of the human spirit, the mind and the soul.

Let's stay united. Let's continue to work together. Let's change the world.

Livestrong and Love,
Brad Smith

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1 comment:

  1. joe, thank you for posting this....brad has such strength to talk about this...just amazing