"My parents want to sponsor you. Are you serious about this?" My co-worker Jenna, shocked me with her urgent tone.

"Yes. I'm doing it." I replied without the slightest hesitation.

There's no turning back now. In exactly one month I'll be at the pub, not as a waitress, but as a "shavee" for St Baldrick's, a world-wide charity event to raise money for childhood cancers.

It wasn't a half hour after committing to Jenna, that a few of the pub's regular customers approached me.

"Are you really going to do this? You know we'll sponsor you."

The comments and support have been overwhelming. I feel motivated. I feel at peace. With this small, if not silly gesture, I can make a contribution to a worthy cause.

Given my mood of the last week, this choice seemed inevitable. I was devastated to learn that my dear friend Faith's cancer has grown worse over a short period of time. Doctors discovered more tumors, and she has returned to the hospital for her fourth time in as many months. Faith's cancer had already caused a fracture in her neck, forcing her to wear a neck brace when she was not in bed. Tumors have also formed in her brain, hip, back, bones, and now her breasts. Radiation and chemotherapy have not stopped the onslaught of this terrible disease.

But here is the worst part. In all my cowardly ways, I haven't mustered up the nerve to call my friend in a week. I'm afraid that I'll breakdown and cry at the sound of her voice. This display of emotion, this pity and sadness, are something Faith finds unbearable. I understand her feelings. I'd be exactly the same way if our situations were reversed. I need to call her when I feel strong enough to handle the conversation. Maybe this small gesture will give me strength and ease my sorrow just enough to make that call.

So you understand-- the source of Faith's cancer has never been determined. Doctors cannot treat her cancer specifically. So, since I can't volunteer or make a donation for her specific type of cancer, I choose childhood cancer research as the cause I'll take up in my friend's honor. As a mother of two boys, Faith would appreciate this choice. Besides, Faith wouldn't want the fuss made over her anyway. She's just not that way.

In another painful reminder of just how pervasive this illness is, the Queen of Sass and I attended "Hoops for Hope" today. It is an annual woman's college basketball game, which raises money for breast cancer research. Fans of the game and supporters of the cause abandoned traditional school colors in favor of pink t-shirts. And as a result, the crowd of 5,000 in the stands looked more like pink patchwork quilt that warmed and cuddled the basketball players.

During the event, I noted more than one woman whose head was bald (no doubt from the chemotherapy offered to save their lives). Nevertheless, these women looked both brave and beautiful to me. As these cancer survivors made their way to the floor during the halftime event, I could only groan inside "And you can't even be strong enough to make one important phone call. How pathetic, Diane." I thought to myself.

Cheer me on as I embark on this little adventure. But please don't mistake this stunt for even a hint of courage on my part. Come this March 23rd, I may be bald, but will never be as brave as both cancer sufferers and survivors. Still, with this act, I will salute them.


JustJunebug said...

Diane, it is YOUR dedication and compassion that gives me inspiration.

You are truly a wonderful woman.

zerodoll said...

Diane, you *are* being brave and you *will* make that call. Your post brought tears to my eyes.

TamWill said...

Diane- I commend you for your compassion and loving heart :O)

Your post really touched me, you are awesome!

utenzi said...

Hmmm. Giving Faith a call--and keep calling as she progresses--will be a good thing for you to do, Diane.

The Door Steward said...

How pretty you look in the photo on StBaldricks.org! Oh shit, you are really shaving it off! Well done though.

3rdtimesacharm( 3T ) said...

I understand how and what you're feeling Diane. I had those same feelings when my good friend and cousins wife relapsed with cervical cancer that had spread through her body. (She was all of 44 at the time) I had to force myself, so fearful of breaking down, or saying the wrong thing, although I loved her dearly, and prayed for her all the time.
Your post brought tears to my eyes. I will pray for you, that He gives you a peace, so you can call your friend Faith as often as is possible.


PS. I did donate in your name on the StBaldricks site. You photo was stunning Diane. You will be beautiful with or without a head of hair.

Diane Mandy said...

Thank you for your kind words everybody. I did try and call Faith, but she was too weak to talk. I'll try again today.

3T- thank you for the donation. That was so incredible sweet of you!

aka senior advisor said...

Diane -- The cynic in me doesn't have a whole lot of faith in mankind but knowing someone like you gives me renewed hope.

I don't think I've ever met someone as caring, giving, and attuned to people as you are. I feel privileged to be one of your friends and I'm sure Faith appreciates your friendship and support too.

Best of luck as a shavee. Sorry I won't be able to be there but I know your beauty (inside and out) will continue to grace us all.