Friday, June 8, 2012

Starfish in the Sand

I started crying at work today.  Maybe I am just extra sensitive because I work in the medical field and I come in contact with people who are struggling with cancer nearly every day.  I meet people with brain cancer, blood cancer, lung cancer, skin cancer or breast cancer.  I could keep going.  In one year I have met more people with cancer than all the rest of my life.  I personally know someone who currently has or is a survivor of lymphoma, leukemia, brain cancer, thyroid cancer, liver cancer, skin cancer or breast cancer. And I have lost someone I love to leukemia.  

My cousin, who is currently caring for her little boy as he recovers from his 3rd brain surgery to remove a brain tumor, shared with us about a family who also has a child with cancer.  This child has leukemia and is 12 months old.  My cousin’s child was 18 months when he was diagnosed with his brain tumor.

Cancer doesn’t care how old you are.  It doesn’t care about your beliefs.  Your race, your gender, your religion.  Cancer is no respecter of persons.  

I know that I shouldn’t try to carry this burden alone, but I believe so deeply in the fight to end cancer. Those times when I start to feel weighed down, or like I am not making much of a difference, I just remember the story of the starfish on the beach.  I don’t know where I heard it or when I heard it.  All I know is that it went something like this:

-A young man was walking along the beach after high tide and saw another man slowly making his way, picking up stranded starfish and tossing them back into the surf.  The first man asked the second why he did it when there were so many that most of them would die before he even got to them. What difference does it make?  The second man picked up a starfish and tossed it into the ocean and responded, “It will make a difference to that one.” -

It makes a difference.  Though right now we can’t save them all—right now—it makes a difference to every patient and family that we do save.  And some day, maybe, hopefully, we WILL find a cure.