When people recently asked me why I am not going to a yearly social media conference (going on this week – that I had been going to for years), I could only share what was really going on: this week I am going to a memorial service for my Aunt who just recently passed way from Ovarian Cancer. Her name was Cyndi and we will miss her dearly.
So I decided that instead of only sharing my thoughts at the memorial service, I would also share them to my community. She bravely fought Ovarian Cancer for the last few years. During that time I had the priceless opportunity to talk to her about her perspective on Cancer and life in general. Here is some of what I learned (there was so much):
1. Every day is a gift – so live life each day to the fullest: My Aunt Cyndi was an intelligent, caring and engaging person who could always make me laugh. She was also open about some of the challenges in her life that she had trouble overcoming. But after learning that she had Ovarian cancer and the fight she had ahead, she decided to reach out of her comfort zone. Aunt Cyndi explained: when you realize your time is limited, your perspective changes. She took the challenges head on to experience as much as possible. Aunt Cyndi helped me gain real perspective on life; Every day is a gift – so life each day to the fullest. I was able to let go of some of the petty things that I worried about to keep focus on what is really important.
2. Take care of your health, do early detection exams and medical support to match your family risk factors: My family, like many, has a history of different types of Cancer. But after we learned more about the BRCA gene, and realized my Aunt had it, my mother and I got tested. While we did not have that gene – we were ready to take the actions recommended by our doctors if we did have it..Many of the brave cancer survivors such as Christina Applegate and others went public with their stories to try to inspire women to do early detection exams (such as mammograms). Or Angelina Jolie that shared her thoughts on why she did a preventive double mastectomy. Or Katie Couric’s spotlight on cancer: Action & Awareness. Or inspirational women from my online community such as Jen Singer who has the Parenting with Cancer website or Susan Niebur who bravely shared information about her fight with Cancer. The list could go on… What I learned is that Cancer is not rational, or fair – it just happens.
3. Support your loved ones: We had the chance to show our love before Aunt Cyndi passed. But that also made me think about some of the family relationships in my life that I was holding back showing my love to. So I reached out to them, realizing that it feels better to put the past behind and move on to enjoy the time we do have together.
4. Social Action: In my dream world I would have this big endowment to get together the world experts on Cancer to share all the information out there in some massive database and crunch out cures…In my dreams somehow tech could find the cure.. In reality, I support the organizations that are doing research to do my part. This includes participating in research studies such as Cancer Prevention CPS-3 Study, which I am calling my gift to future generations run by the American Cancer Society. I will be participating in the study this weekend in honor of my Aunt Cyndi and many others (family and friends) that have bravely fought Cancer.
For those with family or friends that have been touched by Cancer (or your own experiences), what type of perspective did you gain?
Disclosure: This is NOT a sponsored post. I did receive a small stipend to share information on the CP3 Study, but my participation in the study and outreach is driven by my passion to help find cures.