Monday, June 25, 2012

A Great Honor

I've done a lot of things over the past seven years for LLS and Team in Training: five events as participant, and a sixth season as a mentor.  Speaker at numerous meetings to recruit volunteers and at kick-off.  Cheering at events.  Light the Night three times.  But until Saturday night, when I addressed the "I Love the Tavern Triathon" Team, I had never been the honored speaker at a TNT inspiration dinner.

If you have attended an inspiration dinner for the Team, you know they can be pretty massive and inspirational events.  This one was a lot smaller.  Instead of addressing hundreds of participants, there were 15.  But that was fine.  It was my great honor to speak to such a fine and dedicated group.

So what did I say in my 10 minutes of fame?  I talked about how I found out that I had Hodgkin's lymphoma 10 years ago, and what the treatments were like.  I tried to interject a little humor by recounting my story of the ear hair that wouldn't die.  I spoke of why it is so difficult to cure cancers, and although I was a lucky survivor, there were many more who never make it.  I spoke in particular of three people in my life who have passed away in the last 18 months: my friend Judy from multiple myeloma in January 2011, my sister Ann from breast cancer in May 2011, and my friend Faith from Hodgkin's lymphoma this past February.  So there is plenty more to do before we can consider cancer defeated.  Then I closed with these three thoughts:
  1. You never know if and when your life will change radically, as mine did 10 years ago.  So enjoy the good times while you have them, and seize as many days as possible - starting with completing the triathlon the next day.
  2. Someday, all cancers will be curable or at least manageable.  When that day comes, each of them can smile, knowing that they all had a part in that.
  3. As a 10 year cancer survivor, they had my sincere thanks.  I can't thank the people who figured out 30, 40, or 50 years ago how to get most people to survive Hodgkin's lymphoma, but I can thank them.
I don't know if this fine team was inspired by my talk, but I am sure inspired by their hard work, dedication, and courage to tackle a triathlon while trying to make a difference in the war on cancer.

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