A Love Story

I’ve rewritten this blog post in my head several times over the last couple weeks; I’ve played with the theme, the tone, and in general trying to find the right way to express the point I’m trying to convey, but finding the words for such a complex concept has not come easy. Ultimately I’ve settled on a different approach; we’re going to experience a story together.

The story starts like any other…

Boy meets Girl.
Boy falls in love with Girl.
Boy asks Girl to marry him.
Girl accepts.
I meet Boy in college in January 1997, he introduces me to Girl on Halloween, 1997.
I’m a groomsman in their wedding, December 1999.
Boy, Girl, and I remain close friends for 12 years.
Girl decides she’s ready to be a mother, January 2010.
Girl feels a lump in her breast during a routine self exam, October 2010.
My world flips upside down, November 2010.

That wasn’t the story you suspected, nor was it for any of us who are friends with Dana and Jeremiah. I’ve gone through a few emotional times when my parents have had health issues, but I mean, they’re my parents, they’re older than my generation, and to an extent you expect that someday its just reality that they will get old. But when people your age, the same people you interact with month in and month out, get hit indiscriminately with something so devastating… you change. In my previous post entitled First I wrote about all the things I had done in my life over this past year, a bucket list of sorts, but I never revealed the reason I have taken strides in my life to find passion and truly live life. And now you know; when confronted with the reality that one day I will die, I am making a choice to truly live while I can.

At Thanksgiving dinner last year, with 12 people around me, I broke down in tears while giving the blessing at the table. In midsentence it suddenly occurred to me that while I was here with friends and family, on the other side of town two of my closest friends were suffering their way through one of the most trying times of their life. And the injustice of it broke my heart – they are two of the nicest, most thoughtful people you will ever meet. I have 96 people on my Facebook friends list – over half have met Jeremiah and Dana or attended a party that Dana made special in a way that only Dana can.

As Dana’s condition got worse and she began to get treatment I offered to do anything I could to help her and Jeremiah. Bring food, get groceries, cook dinner, take her places, financial help, whatever. But there wasn’t really anything I could do to show my support on a regular basis – she had quite an extensive support network already and I would be remiss not to give a very big acknowledgement to Jeremiah; he is indeed a great man and has been a rock throughout. Despite not having day-to-day involvement,  I still felt the need to do something symbolic to show Dana my support. And that’s when it occurred to me I should sign up for the Susan G. Komen 3-Day Walk alongside Dana. However… there is a catch – for me to walk alongside her I have to raise $2,300 for the foundation.  And this is where I need your help, in the same way Dana needs mine.

To the Women…

As a woman, you are faced with two things men will never be able to comprehend – childbirth and the fear of breast cancer. Every woman I’ve talked to over the last few months has listed getting breast cancer as one of, if not the, top fear in their life. But like anything in life we are not powerless to fight it. Of the women I asked about breast cancer, only a couple had ever done anything to support those with it, or donate time or money towards the cause of fighting breast cancer. I was kind of surprised; if something was so scary why not try to fight it?

For those that have never taken an active role to support those that have been affected, and for those that have given before and want to do more, this is your chance to support someone real and close to you suffering through a breast cancer battle. When you go to bed tonight think about what Dana is going through. Then close your eyes… and imagine it is you instead. As a woman, you will be able to commiserate with her situation better than any man ever will be. There is a battle to fight, and unfortunately as a woman, you are best equipped to understand the stakes of why this cause is so important. If by now you’re shaking your head saying “wow, that’s too bad” but still don’t want to take an active role in making a stand to help someone, then do me a favor instead – say a prayer for not only Dana, but for yourself as well, that you may never have to go through what she is dealing with at the age of 34. I don’t care who you pray to or which religion you choose; just pray. Maybe God will answer your prayers, not for you, but for me – I don’t ever want to have to write another of these for another friend affected with something so scary.

To the Men…

Most men are not emotionally aware, or they are but in a very crude fashion, so I’ll skip the emotional sentiment. Rather, I’ll talk directly to why this matters. Frankly… this is about boobs. There is no man on this planet that doesn’t like boobs. Period. Even gay men will comment on a woman who has a nice set of breasts. Trust me, I have heard it with my own ears.

So why should you donate? Think through what you’d rather have:

  • The chance to see a nice pair of breasts or a $10 fast food meal at McDonalds.
  • The chance to see a nice pair of breasts or $40 of beer at the bar.
  • The chance to see a nice pair of breasts or another shitty Hollywood movie for $20 and a $10 popcorn.
  • The chance to see a nice pair of breasts or a $100 dinner for two at some over-priced sub-par restaurant.

I could go on, but I think I’ve made my point. It doesn’t take a lot to shift priorities and donate a few bucks. Honestly, will you remember one night at the bar, at dinner, or at the movies in the great expanse of life? On the contrary, a great pair of breasts you’ll remember forever. And if we don’t save the ta-ta’s who will?

So here’s how the story ends…

A 7 cm tumor is discovered in her left breast; for comparison’s sake that’s almost a quarter of the way across your chest, November 2010.
Girl is diagnosed with stage IIb intermediate breast cancer, November 2010.
Girl undergoes 5 treatments of chemotherapy to shrink the tumor, December 2010.
Girl goes wig shopping; she’s lost all her hair, January 2011.
The 6th treatment of chemotherapy is cancelled due to a developing infection where the chemotherapy port is embedded in her chest, March 2011.
Girl is hospitalized for 6 days due to complications with the infection.
Girl undergoes a double mastectomy.
Girl undergoes 35 applications of radiation, August 2011.
Girl undergoes reconstructive plastic surgery.
Despite all of the above, girl and I walk 60 miles in 3 days, October 2011.

But this will only be possible with your help. Over the next few months I will spend close to 100 hours training for the 3-Day walk, I will wear through the soles of 2 pairs of walking shoes,  I will donate $500 to the foundation on top of my registration fees, and I will be by Dana’s side when we cross that finish line on the evening of October 23rd, 2011.

So what I’m asking you to do is this:

  1. Click this link and donate $25, $50, $100, whatever you feel comfortable with.
  2. Pick up the phone and call a woman you love; tell her you love her.
  3. Pass a link to this website on to your friends, family, or co-workers and help me meet the goal of $2,300.

Update 8/9/2011: There are absolutely no words that can describe how amazing this has been. When I posted this article last Thursday, August 4th around 7pm ET I sent it to roughly 90 people on my Facebook page asking for donations. I expected a few donations in the $20-30 range to trickle in over the course of the next week or two… but within 4 hours a total of over $1,700 had been donated and as of today I’ve met the $2,300 goal to do the 3-Day walk. I am flattered and grateful beyond words at the generosity I have seen as a result of this post. So to those that donated… thank you. To those that sent me emails and private messages cheering Dana and I on… thank you. 

As a result of all the donations, I’ve updated the donation links to reflect our team donation website, rather than my personal one. There are several teammates who are still working on donations. Instead of donating to me, I’m asking any future donations to go to one of my teammates instead. Just pick a name at random and donate; its that simple.

Again, a most heartfelt thank you to those that have donated or are planning to donate in the next few weeks before the event. I’ll be reaching out to each of you over the next few days to thank you in person for contributing.