Close to the heart

McMurray Musings Connects

By THERESA WELLS, Connect Columnist

There are always some issues or realities that touch us more than others. The arrows lodge closer to our heart on those, and the pain can be almost too much to bear. I thought of this recently when I attended the tenth annual Harvest of Hope fundraiser, which benefits the Canadian Cancer Society. It is always a fun event, more fun than most gala events, which can be rather dry affairs – but the fun doesn’t hide the face or impact of the disease it addresses.

Darlene Predham was about to celebrate being cancer-free after going through a battle a few years ago, but it was found the celebration would need to wait as the cancer had returned. Darlene is the very portrait of dignity and courage, and in my chat with her before the event I was almost brought to my knees by her clarity of thought and her understanding of the things in life we can control, and those we cannot.

There was a moment that evening when someone I am honoured to call a friend stood on the stage to share her own cancer story. Darlene Predham was about to celebrate being cancer-free after going through a battle a few years ago, but it was found the celebration would need to wait as the cancer had returned. Darlene is the very portrait of dignity and courage, and in my chat with her before the event I was almost brought to my knees by her clarity of thought and her understanding of the things in life we can control, and those we cannot.

Three times in just a few months people I hold very near and dear have received this dreaded diagnosis. Three people I care about have gone through or are facing a true battle for their lives, and it is one of those times when I struggle to find the words to express what I truly feel.

My father died of lung cancer. While he died at the age of 81 and most would think that a good life span it is the manner of his death that still leaves me bitter. He deserved better than to suffer the way he did.

He received top-notch medical care and for that I am profoundly grateful, but I will never forget his last days in a palliative care bed, truly a shadow of himself physically but with his mind fully intact. It was the cruelty that he knew exactly what was happening to him that broke my heart.

The good news is that thanks to re-search we are making tremendous strides in the treatment of cancer. Many cancers have good survival rates now, although some continue to claim worrisome large percentages of those who contract them. And the treatment for cancer continues to be difficult in itself – powerful drugs with significant side effects, radiation therapy that often has both short and long term effects and of course the emotional toll of stress and anxiety. We have come a long way. We still have a long way to go.

There are many things we can do (or not do) to prevent cancer from touching our lives, too – like eat a balanced diet, exercise, don’t smoke – but the reality is that often cancer comes out of the blue, unexpected and unanticipated. Perhaps that is why we fear it so much, because it is so very unpredictable and beyond our control.

There are many things we can do (or not do) to prevent cancer from touching our lives, too – like eat a balanced diet, exercise, don’t smoke – but the reality is that often cancer comes out of the blue, unexpected and unanticipated. Perhaps that is why we fear it so much, because it is so very unpredictable and beyond our control.

Organizations like the Canadian Cancer Society do a great deal to change the picture for those with cancer and for their families, offering support and assistance. Researchers around the world are working tirelessly to find new treatments and even more importantly new preventive measures. What is in our control is our support of them, as it takes financial resources to make this happen and I en-courage everyone who has been touched by cancer in some way (eg. all of us) to make donating to organizations that fight cancer a priority.

There is a famous prayer that states: Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference. We must find the serenity to accept that cancer exists and strikes in mysterious ways, we have the courage to do the things we can to stop and prevent this disease and we have the wisdom to know that it matters because it touches all of us at some point over our lives.

As I said in recent months I have had a number of people I love become cancer patients. I believe they will all become cancer survivors. I refuse to give in to the disease that stole my father and has stolen far too many other lives – and those I know with this diagnosis are fighters, too. In every battle there is a victor – and in this case my money (and my heart) is with them.

– Connect Weekly –