“We cannot put off living until we are ready. The most salient characteristic of life is its urgency, ‘here and now’ without any possible postponement. Life is fired at us point-blank.”
Jose Ortegay Gassett
I always get inspired when I am around people who are involved with Relay for Life, the local fundraising initiative for the American Cancer Society. For the third year in a row we have hosted this 24-hour event here on the VFCC campus.
But the beauty of the four rows of oak trees on what we call The Green Lane Commons is nothing compared to the stories of the lives of so many people impacted by this awful disease.
When I arrived around 9a.m. on Saturday morning, committed community representatives were scurrying around getting set up to honor survivors and caregivers but especially to raise money for this worthy cause.
During the opening ceremony everyone was asked to stand who had cancer or who had cared for someone who had cancer or who knew of someone who had cancer. Literally, all of us were standing. I pondered again my mother’s valiant battle with breast cancer and her home going in 1989.
But the story which captured my attention the most at this year’s Relay for Life was shared by Kathy and Lou Lumi. Kathy was the caregiver. Lou was the cancer survivor. Kathy shared from her perspective how this disease came in upon them and how it changed their family. It was obvious how far they had come since they first received the news that Lou’s cancer had returned for a second time.
One of the most poignant parts of her presentation was when she referenced their 6-month-old grandson who arrived in their family just as Lou had received word that he was cancer free. Most of us had a lump in our throats and I saw numerous persons wipe their eyes when she pointed out her daughter who was holding that precious little boy who now is being enjoyed by their family, but especially by Lou.
When Lou came to the podium we were ready to hear his story. It was a routine checkup which revealed his cancer had returned, only this time it was in his neck. He spoke of the medical steps which followed and how he is now cancer free. He thanked Dr. Christopher Holroyde, medical director for the Cancer Center, Phoenixville Hospital.
But it was his analogy which we will long remember. He spoke about “The Threat of Rain.” Using rain as a metaphor for cancer, he said, “We constantly live with the threat of rain. And there is nothing we can do about it. But while rain threatens, we cannot worry about it. We must go on living.”
He spoke of the need to carry an umbrella to be prepared for rain. He also spoke of dancing in the rain and jumping in the puddles if it does come. He even referenced a McDonald’s Happy Meal cup which he came across during this time which said, “Smile even when it rains.”
We all know that the skies are not always blue. All kinds of clouds bring storms which we did not anticipate and which we definitely did not want. How easy it is to live under the threat of extreme “weather” which may come tomorrow and it robs us of living fulfilled lives today.
Lou spoke of the way certain things in life mean much more to him today than ever before. He never wanted to become a member of the Relay for Life Survivor club. But he did. Life now has taken on a whole new meaning and he cherishes each part of it.
In the hustle and bustle of our lives with so much to do and so many places to go, I need words like those.
As Lou said, “Don’t let the rain get in the way of your life.”
Think about it.
Dr. Don Meyer is the president ofValley Forge Christian College, Phoenixville.
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