Last night my husband asked me if I have a "gut" feeling about whether or not I am going to beat cancer. The truth is, no, I don't.
I hope and pray that I am in the percentage of people for whom today's melanoma treatments work. I will try them all. I will do pretty much anything it takes to live longer. At the same time, I continually think about the fact that the worst possible alternative is a possible outcome. This is an aggressive disease. Survival rates with the most advanced drugs, on a good day, are around 50 percent. It is what it is. I have always been a realist.
What I don't need a gut feeling to know is that I am a very fortunate fighter. And, that brings me peace.
I have a faith in God that sustains me, especially in the darkest hours.
I have access to the best possible medical care. In. The. World.
I am married to the perfect partner for me. This trial is bringing us closer together.
Our support system in California and across the globe is strong and willing and loving and amazing. Overwhelmingly so. It brings tears to my eyes at least once a day.
We have the financial resources to not only fight this battle, but to live very comfortably in the process. I am conscious of the fact that many people suffering from cancer, and other equally taxing diseases, cannot say the same.
I am young and am/was in good shape. Cancer and working out are not necessarily compatible, but I am still walking and trying to do yoga. And, so far, I don't have other health problems complicating my treatment.
There is so much more, but in the interest of serving up bite-sized content, I will stop there and repeat: I am a very fortunate fighter. I am blessed to have the opportunity to fight cancer with all of these resources at my disposal. Of this, there is no doubt.
There are people all around the world fighting battles against worse odds, and under much less desirable circumstances.
Consider the refugees fleeing war torn Syria and surrounding areas in Turkey and Iraq. Giving their life savings to a stranger, trusting that person to bring them and their family to safety in Europe. As we are seeing every day, many don't make it to their destination. Those seeking safety in other places in the Middle East are finding themselves in overcrowded camps, without basic necessities. I don't know that we really understand the level of human suffering happening in that part of the world.
Consider the people of South Sudan, stranded for decades in a war torn, disease-ridden country.
Consider fellow melanoma sufferers, like the person I read about today who lives in Brazil and does not have access to the kinds of life-saving treatments available in the U.S. and Europe.
Consider the foster child in the U.S. thrown into, and around, a system that almost certainly will fail them without the intervention and tenacity of someone who loves that child like their own.
I could go on, but you get the point.
I know pain and suffering is part of life and we can't solve all the world's problems. But, we can do some things to tangibly make small differences. We can give. We can pray. We can volunteer our time. I am convicted that I need to do more of all of these things.
And, I can and should be more grateful that I am one of the fortunate fighters.
Perspective is a powerful thing.
One last note. If you are looking for an organization invested in alleviating human suffering to support, please consider Medair. Medair does relief and recovery work in some of the hardest to reach places in the world, including the Middle East and South Sudan. Erick worked for this organization when we lived in Switzerland (and he even spent some time in Iraq with them) and you can trust that the funds you give will go to the right places.