Cancer is all around us, and there isn't anyone who doesn't either know someone who had - or has - cancer, or knows someone who knows someone. There was a time when no one talked about cancer, so we didn't know as many people who have it - though we probably did. It just wasn't talked about.
My mother had ovarian cancer - she finished her chemo a few months ago. She was diagnosed with it at the beginning of the holiday season last year. Every once in a while I'm asked where I get my stubbornness; easy answer, my mom.
She wasn't going to let it stop her; slow her down, she understood that. But it wasn't going to stop her. The only big change she had while going through it was that she and my dad didn't go to Florida with their friends like they usually do. She opted to stay here to undergo her chemotherapy and be able to sleep in her own bed.
In the months from diagnosis to ending chemo, I only heard her say anything negative once in passing. And it wasn't really negative, just a mention of "if." She has nothing but praise for her treatment at the Alpena Cancer Center. A couple of weeks ago she had to take a survey about her treatment and she joked that she felt like people might think she was lying because of her praise, she felt that strongly about her treatment and positive experience
My mother is a strong person. On Thursday, you are going to get the opportunity to meet a group of strong people, all of them either having battled cancer or going through it. On Tuesday, we wrapped up the production of a special supplement to be inserted into the paper, "Hope & Heroes."
In it, you are going to meet people from all walks of life and various ages who have been told they had cancer, and find out how they have stared down this disease. The people in it are ages 20-66, with one person in the process of fighting leukemia and others who have been cancer free for several years. We also have a profile of the cancer center, Friends Together support group, and the cancer study people in Alpena are taking part in, plus we have a list of resources for more information.
As we compiled our list of people, Lifestyles Editor Diane Speer and I were seeing names of people we knew. While that's the way it is in a small town, it also highlights how far we've come in removing the stigma of cancer. It once was a private fight for the person and their family, now it's one we take on as a society.
Locally we have the Relays for Life through the summer across the area. This weekend is the Zonta Walks for Women - the sixth annual breast cancer awareness 5K run/walk in Alpena. Nationwide there are runs, walks, and all sorts of events geared toward cancer research. This is a battle that crosses gender, race, religious affiliation, political affiliation, etc. Everyone has a stake in the outcome.
October is breast cancer awareness month, but it is so much more than just breast cancer that gets attention at this time of year. The good thing about the breast cancer awareness designation in October is that it brings cancer to the forefront. All forms of cancer treatment benefit from it. And because of it we are moving forward in the fight against it.
So look for Hope & Heroes in Thursday's edition of The News. We've already discussed whether this is something we could/should do again next year. Read the stories about these people and their fight against cancer. You will marvel at their strength and be inspired by their perseverance. Then let us know what you think.