Monday Medical: Walking for hope and a cure

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Hope will be the word of the day - and night - this weekend.

That's when more than 500 people will gather at the second annual Steamboat Springs Relay for Life fundraiser against cancer. We are friends and neighbors, teachers and students, bankers and baristas, volunteers and store clerks, retirees and teenagers, churchgoers and construction workers, caregivers and cancer survivors.

We will begin walking Friday evening and stay on the Steamboat Springs High School track all night, because cancer never sleeps. In addition to hope, each of us will carry many emotions in our hearts.

Anger, because a co-worker's chair sits empty.

Compassion, because a friend needs a strong shoulder to lean on.

Fear, which runs deep when cancer strikes home.

Love, because it binds us together.

Sadness, because so many people have passed on.

Inspiration, because so many people are living with cancer.

Here are some reasons why more than 50 of us at Yampa Valley Medical Center are committed to this event:

"I am a 4-year survivor. My staff has been very supportive of my recovery, and we have joined together on a team," Joyce says. "It feels good to be with many close friends and colleagues. Everyone on our team has been affected by cancer in some way."

"As a nurse I have seen patients diagnosed and then helped them as they struggled with cancer. Unfortunately, too many of my patients have not survived," Cassidy says. "This year, cancer came home for me. My sister has been given less than a year to live. I'm walking for my sister and for my patients, past and future."

"I am walking for my husband whose odds of developing cancer are high, with numerous family members that have passed from cancer. I walk for his sister who died of cancer last month at age 28, leaving behind her 6-month-old child," Ann notes.

"My reasons for walking are for my late husband and my survivor daughter," Geri says. "The treatment and prognosis have changed so much in the last 14 years since I first heard the 'C' word in my life. There is more hope now than ever before."

"I am walking in memory of my dad. He had various types of cancer for 10 years and then lost his fight in 1997," Connie says. "My sister-in-law is an ovarian cancer survivor, and that is not an easy thing to be. It is important to do something to help the fight, especially if you are healthy."

Relay for Life is an international event that honors cancer survivors and remembers those who have died from this disease. If you already are involved, I will see you this weekend. If you are just learning about this event and want to show your support, you can do so in several ways.

Come to the SSHS track on Friday. Cheer for the people and pets in the inspiring Survivors' Lap at 6 p.m. Read the luminaria messages at 9 p.m. before the lights go out and more than 2,000 points of light begin to glow. This experience only can be described as spiritual.

Make a donation. You can go online to www.relayforlife.org, find the Steamboat event and donate to a team or an individual. Or look for the Relay for Life emblems around town to connect with a supportive business.

I want to close this very personal column with more thoughts expressed by my co-workers who will be walking this weekend.

"The research funded by this event has everything to do with how many people are going to be walking in the Survivors' Lap. Every survivor is a hero and has struggled to get where they are today."

"Working for cancer physicians, I saw women who felt invaded, ashamed, heartbroken and so alone when their husbands left them. I've known men who feel they have to be strong and invincible, and it is not easy for them to depend on someone else for care and caring."

"I remember an older couple, each of whom had a form of cancer. The man is still doing well, though his wife passed away. In grieving with him, I was able to watch him carry her spirit in his heart and his life as he continued on - as he and she both wanted."

"It is important to recognize all cancers, not just one. With Relay for Life, we are able to show our support to all individuals and families who have suffered and triumphed with faith and hope."

"I walk for my friend Cathy who is waging a hellish war with cancer. I hope that our standing up will help bolster her in the harsh times she is going through. I walk because we all feel so helpless in the face of her struggle to live. I walk for a CURE and life free of cancer!"

Christine McKelvie is public relations director for Yampa Valley Medical Center and a team member of YVMC Caregivers Against Cancer.

Comments

freshair 7 years, 3 months ago

Cancer is a natural part of the Life process. To be 'angry' at its existence is misdirected and delusional thinking. Those who fall prey to such conclusions have not accepted their own mortality and the Reality that, in Life, Death can come at any time from any event.

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cclamo 7 years, 3 months ago

I can't imagine anyone having lost a loved one to cancer having that cold, hardened view. Cancer is NOT a natural part of the life process. If it were we would all have it!

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Hadleyburg_Press 7 years, 3 months ago

Freshair, Do you agree that a cure for any disease is in and of itself part of the "natural" order or are you implying that any attempt to manipulate our internal environment is folly?

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animalfarm 7 years, 3 months ago

"Freshair" is obviously NOT a breath of Fresh Air!

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freshair 7 years, 3 months ago

Many of my close relatives and friends have passed from this Life via cancer. Understanding what is naturally occuring is not 'coldhearted'. We have an obsession in this country, indeed we are unique in this respect, with the Denial of Life's natural processes of Aging and Death. In those older cultures of the East, where Death is not feared or denied, 'marches' against cancer or any illness are viewed as another strange aspect of American life. From the moment the first humans appeared on this planet, there also appeared in these same humans the genetic triggers for this disease.

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Hadleyburg_Press 7 years, 3 months ago

you also sound like an apologist for some third world country that lacks any kind of medical sophistication and must create some kind of philosophical placebo to comfort their tribe and give them false hope or even prevent the concept of hope that their existance will improve in terms of duration, qualityand lack of pain...

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freshair 7 years, 3 months ago

Until there comes a time in the distant future when we are able to replace every organ, bone,nerve, ligament, muscle, body fluid etc., those biological processes which we call 'disease' will continue to be a part of human existence. When one properly understands that Life is ultimately, a Death sentence, one maintains compassion for his fellow human beings in all the random events contributing to their demise. But one also understands that 'marches' against your-disease-of-choice simply reflect a cultures inability to accept that most basic and real event....Death.

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ventrygirl 7 years, 3 months ago

To live a life with the Grim Reaper always lurking in your rearview mirror is sad and somewhat pathetic. The Relay is about hope and life, not despair and death.

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freshair 7 years, 3 months ago

Nothing 'lurking', no 'grimness', Life is about Joy but also Awareness. Let those who have the seed of wisdom and intuition understand the message.

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JazzSlave 7 years, 3 months ago

freshair:

Polio was once a part of the "Life process." Do you regret that that particular natural process "which we call 'disease [polio, in this instance]'" is no longer crippling millions of people? Or can we at least agree that the eradication of polio is a good thing?

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Hadleyburg_Press 7 years, 3 months ago

Freshair, Evolution seems to be passing you by my poor friend. If you are past the age of 30 then you yourself have been the beneficiary of medical advances in the last thousand years. Do you protest this? You aren't one of those dumb apes that still drinks from the same water source that you poop in are you?

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JazzSlave 7 years, 3 months ago

freshair:

From the article you cite:

"A global UN vaccination campaign launched in 1988 to eradicate the disease has been 99 percent successful, reducing the number of worldwide polio cases from more than 350,000 in 1988 to less than 700 in 2003. "

99% eradication. Good or bad? Worth achieving again, or not?

My orginal post should more accurately have stated that polio has been eradicated in the Western world.

Answer the question: Is that a good thing, or a bad thing?

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freshair 7 years, 3 months ago

Jazzslave....by what strange method of reasoning do you reach the conclusion that anything I have stated means I am against the eradication of any disease? A very, very strange conclusion, indeed.....Polio has largely disappeared from this country except for a few isolated outbreaks like the one in 2000 in Minnesota and a larger outbreak in the Dominican Republic. Once the infectious agent has been identified, as it was in Polio, a vaccine is possible. Over the course of time mutations occur and what was once an effective vaccine is no longer the case. This has already occurred with the Polio virus. In areas of the world where vaccination is hit-and-miss, mass outbreaks occur as they did in Asia and Africa. Many Public Health experts question whether any infectious disease is truly eradicable.

When speaking of Cancer,which encompasses many different forms, the problem is we still do not understand the process by which it triggers cellular metastization. In that respect, we are no closer to a 'cure' than ever.

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JazzSlave 7 years, 3 months ago

freshair:

Not strange at all. Your fatalistic jive about life being a "Death sentence"; our "obsession" and "denial" and "delusional thinking" regarding disease & death and how you arrogantly think other people should deal with it, reasonably leads me to believe that you are a 'live & let die' kinda guy. We are all living under a "Death sentence" so raising funds and awareness for cancer r&d is "misdirected."

All of which strikes me as more than a little selfish.

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freshair 7 years, 3 months ago

That's your opinion, Jazzy. If you think that acknowledging death is 'Fatalistic', it could be, seeing how Death is fatal. It can also be termed 'Realism' or any other label you choose. That's not the point, the point is in acceptance of the inevitably of Death without Fear and disease being accepted as just one of the many vehicles which end Life. And if that is being arrogant, by your definition, then I'm in pretty good company.

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Lark 7 years, 3 months ago

While I see freshair's point, I think s/he picked the wrong article to elaborate on that point of view.

This walk, and ones like it, are for hope. It's an expression of support for people who are struggling with a disease with which many people have been afflicted and few know how to cope. It's just as much for the walker as the ones the disease directly effects.

I don't agree with Jazz that freshair is being selfish in his line of thinking - but I do feel that freshair is being selfish in sharing that line of thinking in response to this article. It's like the people who were railing about underage drinking when we lost the OC kids who were jumping on the oil storage tank: save it for the appropriate forum.

Just because you can post to any article, don't go pissing in someone's cheerios just because you can. While you may be right, in the end, it just makes you look like a jerk. And while you may not care (apparently), there are real people behind these posts (and this story) who are really suffering, and grasping for anything they can do to help the ones they love - and themselves - deal with the effects of this disease. Show some compassion - we're all in this together.

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freshair 7 years, 3 months ago

Lark...brilliant summary. In hindsight, it was the wrong venue. To anyone unprepared to read those words, my sincerest apologies. Hopefully, it also made some re-think their situation and understand that we are all passengers on this journey and there is nothing that can happen to any of us that has not happened to the billions of souls who have preceded us.

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Hadleyburg_Press 7 years, 3 months ago

freshair, I certainly hope that you are not a physician. I bid you farewell on your journey to embrace your fatalistic desire to return your borrowed carbon atoms from whence they came without adjustment or contemplation of what if. I can only hope that you find a way to bring comfort to those suffering around you while you walk this earth inebriated by your own version of reality, of which you are entitled to. I apologize for my crass and uncivil comments earlier. I ment no malice.

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