Every year my mother asks me the same question: ďWhat do you want for your birthday?Ē
My typical response is a groan.
Why I dread the question, I donít know. Probably because I never have a clear idea in my head of what I do want (hello, indecisive), and even if I do, I hate to ask for anything.
This year was different. First of all, my mother didnít ask the question. Weíve had a lot going on in the family, and lots of company, so itís perfectly understandable. And secondly, Iíve actually given the matter some thought.
My contemplations actually started before this, the eve of the first anniversary of my 34th birthday.
Yes, Iím having a hard time with the whole 3-5 thing. Can you tell?
For me itís a big birthday. One on which it is more than prudent to take stock of the years that have led up to this moment, as well as to ponder what the future will bring.
Sure, thereís a CD Iíve been wanting, and a list of books Iíd love to have. Jewelry is always nice. And who doesnít like to get flowers?
But while I wouldnít turn down any of those things (ahem), Iím thinking I should be thinking on a larger scale.
Maybe itís the natural maturity which comes from reaching an age which until a couple of years ago I thought was absolutely ancient. But I like to think of it as wisdom. Or better yet, enlightenment.
So, what is it that I want for my birthday? It isnít world peace or a speedy remedy for the Gulf oil disaster. (Although, donít get me wrong, both of those would be fabulous.)
No, my birthday wish is for a cure for cancer.
When I was young, I didnít think there was anything modern medicine couldnít handle. I thought when you got sick, you went to the doctor and they gave you some pills or performed surgery, and then you were well. Old age was the only thing they couldnít fix, in my mind.
Obviously, these naive notions were dispelled as I got older. Much to my dismay, I learned just how fragile the human body is, how susceptible to disease. And no matter how vast the knowledge we have gleaned, gathered and deduced through the marvels of science, there are many things we still donít know. Many things we canít fix or cure.
Cancer, of course, is one of them. Great strides have been made over the last few decades. Thanks to research, new, more effective treatments are being developed every day to combat the many forms this disease takes. It is no longer the death sentence it once was, but still, far too many people lose their lives because of it.
I look back at my life and think how lucky I am. Until just a couple of years ago, I hadnít really lost anyone in my life to cancer. Other illnesses and disease, yes. But not cancer.
Now, thatís no longer the case. When I think of cancer, I think of John Lobdell and Jolene Smith, two former Oxford classmates of mine who have died in the last two years. I think of former Guilford Supervisor Al Doyle. I think of Brandi Estelow, Todd Harvey, Cindy Hughes and so many others, whose deaths have shaken our communities.
But I think too of the survivors I have met, like Amy Brillinger Pole, whose courageous fight against brain cancer has been an inspiration to so many. She and all those I know like her give me hope that finding a cure is possible.
And itís days like today that I need that hope, because as I write this one of the most important people in my world is on their way to start treatments again.
So, yes, my birthday wish is for a cure for cancer. Which is why in 15 days Iíll be participating in the 2010 Relay for Life of Chenango County fundraising walk in support of the American Cancer Society. Iíll be walking with my coworkers on the Snyders Striders team.
I hope you will consider supporting this important cause, whether it is by participating in Relay for Life or making a donation in support of someone who is.
Like, ahem, me.
Donations can be made at www.relayforlife.org/chenangocountyny and clicking ďdonate here.Ē
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