world cancer day

It’s personal. Like most of you reading this article, my life has been changed in a devastating way due to cancer. My namesake and maternal grandmother, “Yiayia Theoklia” died of throat cancer in the 1960’s. I was robbed of all those years of a doting yiayia to spoil me. In my 20’s, my mom was diagnosed with stomach cancer. I left my corporate job and stayed home with her as her devoted caretaker for that precious last year of her life. The hell on earth she endured with radiation, surgeries and chemotherapy was a testiment to her strength and will to live. Finally, her body was simply overcome with pain and cancer. She returned home and began her work as a guardian angel.

My faith is God and Jesus fill my heart with appreciation and grace to heal their losses. But, everyone knows the world will be better off when cancer is completely eradicated! My journey has made me a better, more compassionate person. I want to share some creative ideas to help patients and their families dealing with cancer. The helpless feeling when you learn of a friend or family’s diagnosis can be crippling. Together we can reach out, build each other up and hold space until cancer is defeated.

  1. Start a Go Fund Me for the family. Many people are in need of financial support and don’t know how to ask for it. Ask the friend or family if you have permission to launch a campaign. It can be for a special occasion, daily meals or actual medical expenses. Be their voice and help tell their story.
  2. Start a FB Messanger or text message prayer chain. Select a date and time (even once a month) to gather everyone in prayer. Ask a pastor to lead; find a healing prayer or use one of your own. ” For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” Matthew 18:20
  3. Laughter is the best medicine. Normal Cousins dealt with his own cancer through laughter, collaboration with his doctors and writing about his journey. Anatomy of an Illness and Head First: The Biology of Hope are great gifts. Louise Hay offers endless meditations, literature and stories of hope and healing. The most important point is that the patient knows they are not alone! There is hope.
  4. Children’s cancer is the most incomprehensible diagnosis in the world. You can support the children and their families by helping them by in funding extra curricular activities (painting pottery, trip to the zoo, Disney or an arcade) that brings them joy sprinkled with hopes and dreams for a brighter tomorrow. Organizations like Pediatric Cancer Foundation host events that raise money and bring friends and family together (5K , Car Washes) and can be great fun to do in their honor or together. My volunteer work at Camp Good Days & Special Times (camp for children with cancer and sickle cell anemia and their siblings) taught me that the kids with cancer want to run and jump and just be kids! They are some of the most corageous humans I have ever met. Meet Tyler Figueroa.

Cancer is something horrible that touches most everyone. We come together on World Cancer Day to honor patients, families, care givers, doctors, nurses, non profits and complete strangers. We wish all of you the strength and peace to face cancer challenges. Please share your stories for helping others dealing with cancer. Godspeed.