This month marks a milestone birthday for the American Cancer Society, an organization that during that time has led the way in saving lives and creating birthdays for so many. It was through the vision and determination of a group of 15 physicians and business leaders in 1913 who had a mission to raise awareness of cancer that this organization was formed. 100 years later, the work they have accomplished and continue to do every single day is monumental. I am continually amazed by their constant strides, including contributing to a 20 percent decline in cancer death rates in the US since the early 1990s. That is nearly 1.2 million lives, a truly staggering testament to their mission in action.
Cancer has touched my life several times over. In 2009, I had a profound experience with a loved one's cancer diagnosis. Back home in Oklahoma, my maternal grandmother began having symptoms indicating that she might need a colonoscopy. It was during that colonoscopy that her doctor, Dr. Minor detected through a biopsy that she had colon cancer. I remember the day she was given her cancer diagnosis. I have thought many times over about what if it had been me in the patient chair being given that diagnosis. I was completely numb and stunned, and I was a family member, not the patient. I will never forget how Dr. Minor chose to give her diagnosis to her. Not the words, "You've got cancer." We waited to see if he would say those words. Instead he told her about the surgery he wanted to do. It was the surgery she would have so she could "beat the cancer". She and I, along with my future husband Craig, looked up Dr. Minor stunned. I saw the stunned look flow across my grandmother's aged face. She determined to have the surgery and the days in between were filled with so many emotions. I remember her words to me as she prepared for my to take her to the hospital that morning, "I want you to know I am going to go into that surgery room FIGHTING to live for you!" That she did. I remember the look of joy and elation on her face several months later when a local "Relay for Life" team had her stand to be honored as a cancer survivor at a Mother's Day tea fundraiser.
The American Cancer Society's campaign to increase the number of birthdays by beating cancer touches me to the core because of the reality I experienced first-hand in my life with Grandma Cleva living to celebrate another birthday after beating colon cancer.
I was blessed to be raised in a family who taught me early on in life about the important work the American Cancer Society does and since my childhood in the late 1970s and early 1980s, it has been an amazing feeling to see them play a role in nearly every cancer research breakthrough in recent history. For the past several years, I have supported my friends and family during their fundraising efforts for the annual "Relay for Life" in their communities, watching with pride from the sidelines in my own community as cancer survivors begin the event by walking a victory lap.
100 years later, the American Cancer Society stands strong in their commitment to a world where there are more birthdays celebrated. Their goals include helping people facing cancer have the help they need, such as transportation to their treatments and a place to stay when they get there. They are committed to keep fighting for cancer research funding, quality health care access for everyone, lifesaving screenings.
Singer Josh Groban lends his amazing voice to the "Finish the Fight" TV commercial you can view below and I think it conveys a powerful message of exactly what it means for the American Cancer Society to finish the fight.
This post is sponsored by the American Cancer Society.