Over the last few years I have shared much about myself and my journey on my blog and you my friends are welcome to get in my brain if you wish and scroll through older posts but for today I will share a glimpse of what keeps me here with you.
When I started with the American Cancer Society (ACS) over 9 years ago my Regional Vice President and supervisor at the time, John, told me that this might be the only job I have where my one and only goal is to put my organization out of business. Wouldn't that be a beautiful thing if none of us had jobs. Can you imagine a point in our life where we wouldn't have to watch those we love suffer and fight this ugly disease??
I have held many different positions over my years with ACS and like many of you reading this I have worked directly with our volunteers to impact the lives of cancer patients and their families. Today I don't have the privilege of working directly with our volunteers very often. Today I work with processes and data and all of things that aren't the FUN part of our work. OK I'll admit I'm quirky and LOVE this part of my job but I realize it isn't the part that all of you love. There is a reason that I do it though and this week of learning and sharing has made me think more about why I get up and go to work every day when I'd rather be home playing with this little guy...
I have a list of reasons that is all to long as I'm sure you do too but since this is my blog you get to read part of my list!
1. My Grammy June was the first person I knew with breast cancer. She won that part of her battle but at 91 years young I lost her anyway.
2. When I was about 12 a dear friend of our family lost his battle with cancer. The image of him in the hospital will forever be etched in my mind.
3. My Aunt Dotty lost her battle with colon cancer within weeks of the birth of my first son.
4. My friend Lora lost her son to a brain tumor and that is just something no mom should have to go through.
5. My son has Down syndrome and children with Down syndrome are at a much higher risk of being diagnosed with childhood leukemia than the typical population. YES I panic a bit each and every time he has a low grade fever.
6. Two weeks ago my Uncle was diagnosed with esophageal cancer that has already moved on to his liver.
7. 7 days ago I attended the funeral of my 54 year old cousin, Doug, who lost his battle with bladder cancer that wasn't satisfied with his bones and so moved into his brain as well. He lost his battle 9 days before his youngest daughter was married. (Click here for additional story)
My supervisor, Deb, has told me time and time again to be pleasantly persistent. Make sure that I am able to share our goals, our strategies and our forms in a way that makes sense to everyone. Make sure to be patient because not everyone you talk to understands forms, siebel and data like you do Mary. Thankfully Deb is also patient and pleasantly persistent because to be truthful it is hard to be patient. By design I'm not a patient person and some days it begins to be a little overwhelming when not only your family but the family of your friends and coworkers are all being attacked by this horrible disease. On those days I feel a bit helpless. On those days I want to make sure that everyone does understand data and all we do to gather it and all it does for us. On those days I want to make sure that everyone understands that we really will have more access to share our information with patients if we prove with data to the hospitals that we really do serve there patients in meaningful ways. On those days I want to make sure that everyone understands no funder will give us money if we can't prove we are responsible in how we spend it. On those days If I am not as patient as I should be I apologize.
On those days when it seems too much to be surrounded by this ugly disease and I feel so powerless to it all, I think about my list and your list and why we all continue to do our part day after day.