I woke up before 0600 and have accomplished nothing substantial. The TV is on. Bella is awake. I administered her medicine which is a daily routine for us. Every 12 hours she receives her 7.5 mg…last night she reminded me she needed her medicine. I poured out her med in a small measuring cup, and pulled up the 7.5 mg in a syringe. We left the event together. Just the two of us. She was unhappy that we left the Relay for Life rally before her friends and she said she does not like to feel different. I tried to tell her no one can make her feel different, she has the power to change these thoughts, but having epilepsy can feel like you are ruled by the disease. I respected her since she said, no one made her feel different –it was her. She has incredible strength. Overall we are very grateful. She has not had an episode for over a year. Yet, last night when she slept next to me I felt her body shaking and I thought the shakes were convulsions? I don’t think so, but needed assurance from Ali when she came back from her all night Relay for Life at JFK Middle School. She left a half hour ago to take a civil service exam. She has amazing strength as well. This is where my children get this incredible asset. Most of us (me) would give in to the exhaustion and head to our beds, but not my wife. The civil service tests are infrequent and she prepared herself for this day. Going into last night’s event with the knowledge she will be up and have to be in the right state of mind to read and answer comprehensive questions. There is a math portion which she took classes to prepare for. My wife is committed. Yesterday afternoon I arrived back home after being away since Tuesday. There were a lot of emails to respond to and I was busy with business. I like feeling I’m under the gun. Bring it on. But I felt Ali needed help setting up for the Relay. I arrived at the school at 7 PM with the pillows and camera she asked for me to bring. I found our tent and area and kissed Diana and saw Ali who wore her sun glasses and was motivated for this night. Being a cancer survivor and sharing her story – there is an entry I posted in the blog which Ali wrote and shared to our church – is becoming more common with the advent of potent oncological pharmaceuticals and intensive research. My mother-in-law (Diana) also is a survivor after months of treatment for skin cancer…growing up under the Florida sun. There were hundreds of people there. There was an amazing rendition of the National anthem by one of our high school students. There were kids playing Frisbee, tossing a football, selling carnations, cupcakes, and bracelets –all to raise funds. There was a sighting of a moon. I have not seen one in decades. A slow black Suburban of something like it – was honking its horn and when we cheered back to it - we were struck at the site of a white ass blazing out of a rear window…get it… rear window. My mother in-law laughed – she has a great sense of humor and both felt the same, we have not seen a moon in years. “I thought they stopped doing that.” There were groups selling food, amazing pork sandwiches…bands played. Let’s get serious. Watching the survivors walk around the track with pleasant smiles of pride on their faces as we clapped and then it was our turn, the caregivers walked around the track to the cheers, but I felt out of place there. I mean the cancer we survived passed. It’s in the past. I’d like to keep it there. Yet, looking at the names… the quarter mile of hundreds of illuminated paper bags which were decorated with names of loved ones, I saw a picture of a woman on one and she could have been someone I knew - it was striking. Our numbers could reach and settle the anxiety of those who are gripped by the fear of the unknown. Under the clear night sky I watched the figures walk the track. Under Pluto and Venus a balloon slowly rose awkwardly under the stars. There were many familiar faces from this community and others who remained anonymous but we were there for a purpose. Together, this event raised $63,000 for the American Cancer Society. We were there because somehow we were impacted by cancer. It’s the dreaded three words anyone wants to hear, “You have cancer.” Yet illuminated in the night… on the bleachers… was the large glowing word - HOPE. With faith, hope and love we can overcome the impossible.
Thank you for reading this.