Prized Possessions

When I was a teacher I often assigned my students writing projects. I always encouraged them to write about something they knew, something that had meaning for them, something they were passionate about. In this month’s post, I am taking my own advice and writing about something that has become an essential and meaningful part of my life.

Like many of you, when Allan received the call from his PCP informing us that tests indicated he had cancer and needed to see an oncologist, we were shocked. The appointment was scheduled immediately so we did not have a great deal to time to actually process the magnitude of the situation. It quickly became a reality once we entered the oncologist’s office. As we anxiously sat there waiting to be called, I noticed a binder on the coffee table amongst all the magazines. It had the word LIVESTRONG in large letters printed on the spine. As I leafed through the information in the binder, I saw a picture of a simple yellow wristband inscribed with the word LIVESTRONG. At the time, I didn’t fully understand the impact that word had for the wearer and the symbolism it had for others.

When Allan’s diagnosis was confirmed, and treatment began, we spent much of our time in the company of other cancer patients who were also receiving treatment. It was then that I noticed just how many people wore the yellow wristbands. I am sure that prior to this point, I had seen hundreds of these wristbands. I obviously knew what they were prior to seeing them in the office that day, but because they didn’t have specific meaning for me, I reluctantly admit that I never really noticed them before.

When Allan began wearing one, the wristband took on a new significance. In my mind, it was a badge of honor, a symbol of all that he had been through. Seeing others with the wristband provided me with a degree of comfort. In essence, there were countless other people who truly understood what we were going through. Silently, they gave me inspiration. Oftentimes, if there was a situation where I did not feel it was too intrusive to ask total strangers their reason for wearing the wristband, I did. My question was always greeted warmly as the wearers readily shared their stories. Listening to each story I felt a special bond with someone who minutes earlier was a mere stranger. I reflect on those conversations and fondly remember the important connections I made with people I otherwise would not have met.

Soon after Allan’s initial treatments were over we became actively involved in the MMRF. We participated in their seminars, webinars and created our own team for the 5K Walk/Run event in Boston. At our first walk, we passed out the MMRF wristbands to our team.  The wristbands are inscribed with the words “How Cures Are Found.” The meaning of those words truly resonates with me. To this day those words motivate and inspire both of us to do all that we can to promote awareness and seek funding for research. In the last 10 years the MMRF has helped to nearly triple patient survival, delivered ten new treatments and launched over 60 new clinical trials.

It is for that reason, I have worn the orange wrist band every day for the last eight years. It is the symbolism of the wristband that has so much meaning for me. It constantly reminds me that we need to actively pursue the quest to find that cure. It is what this post is about.

Each night before going to sleep, I remove both my wedding ring and the orange wristband inscribed with the words, “How Cures Are Found.” They sit side-by-side on my nightstand. One is made of diamonds and gold, the other is made of inexpensive silicone. One signifies an incredible forty year marriage the other embodies our hope for the future. Both are priceless.

Don’t stop believing.