Cancer. That is a word that is scary. So many of us have friends, family and co-workers that are impacted by some type of cancer, but you never think it will be you. The word conjures up fear. Fear of treatment, fear of death and fear of what will be expected of you to deal with and hopefully survive.
I have had the honor and pleasure of working with an outstanding team of co-workers at United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 1996 and The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS) to raise money for this most worthy cause and fight blood cancer. LLS's annual fundraiser, Light The Night Walk, is a near and dear event to the two people I support at UFCW Local 1996, Steve Lomax, President and Leon Holderfield, Secretary Treasurer. Through the years, this event has become an important part of my life. It is an arduous project and takes months of preparation, but the end results always bring a feeling of accomplishment for us all at UFCW Local 1996. And all is done with great love and commitment to those with blood cancers.
About ten months ago, the unthinkable happened. My primary physician became suspicious and sent me to a specialist in the field of blood diseases. When I first saw the oncologist (now that is a scary word too), I could hear the words, but somehow I was not digesting them. He called it, chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL). All I heard him say was “leukemia” and I thought, “well, after all these years of fundraising for LLS, I certainly know how to spell it”.
My first thought was to thank God, because there are so many others who do not have the amazing insurance my job offers me, or the love and support of so many. I have found that positive thoughts and healthy habits go a long way in helping me face this in the only way I know how, and that is by keeping the faith and living my best life. I made a deal with my doctor, when he gets concerned, then I will too. Until then, I have no fear and I will let him “watch and wait”.
For me, I will not let blood cancer define me or steal my joy. It is all the people that work and financially support LLS that give people like me the most needed thing and that is, hope.