Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Going Grey in May

Some might suggest that one month is no more stressful than another, and thus change in hair colour is independent of season and time. I believe, as I watch life roll by, and have had children and grandchildren who like to change their hair colour, like others would change their seasonal attire, hair colour might in fact be seasonal.  I digress. My thoughts today are not about hair colour at all; the theme of this collection of thoughts is about BRAIN CANCER.

I have been reminded, as I occasionally mention or post about Brain Cancer, that it is not the “only” type of cancer out there, and it is important to be praying for all who are struggling as survivors in the midst of this terrible disease. That is so true; any type of cancer is terrifying to say the least, and can manifest itself as a reminder that life is fragile at the best of times. Yet, my thoughts are mostly aimed at a person who has Brain Cancer. He is my son.

Ben is strong, talented in so many ways, and has a love for life and helping others. He is opinionated, feisty, up to argue his point on design and construction method and most of all highly respected for his wide variety of knowledge and skill sets, in a vast array of fields. He has tried his hand at many things and guess what… he happens to be good at all of them. He hadn't had many challenges in life that have slowed him down or stumped him, until one night in 2010 when he had a major seizure. He might have had some slight ones previous to this that he was not aware of, but not like this one. He was quickly diagnosed with a tumor and he immediately began to make decisions to meet it “Head On”. That is my Ben… a no nonsense guy who sees life as a set of challenges, and walks toward them with strength and courage that amazes me to no end. If he has weak moments, they are "his" weak moments, not shared with the world.

It seems that most or all types of cancer, here in North America, have special months. With the advent of ribbons as a sign of respect and honour, cancer awareness soon took up their use and different colours signify the various types of cancer. Grey is the colour of the Brain Tumor and their Cancer Ribbon. My wife and daughters are wearing grey this month. My youngest daughter posts her grey apparel each morning in support of her brother. Both of my daughters and my wife have painted their fingernails grey. I am wearing grey most days as well, but I am not as consciously dedicated to its use. You see I have a problem, not major, but nevertheless, I struggle.

I love my son dearly, but I also care very much about all who are facing the diagnosis and prognosis of the various types of this disease. I pray for over 20 people daily who are either close family or friends, who are cancer patients and survivors. If I know this many people who have cancer, how many people are actually suffering from this disease just in our area? Many, many more I fear, are out there; silently suffering and living a daily existence that even their family and friends cannot fully understand. They live from day to day, MRI to MRI, Dr.’s appointment to Dr.’s appointment, with a regime of treatments, antibiotics, anti-seizure meds and stomach pills to fight off further complications. Treatments meant to heal often harm the system and their resulting problems can lead to further medical treatments that take time, energy and human resources, not to mention further monetary stress to the patient.

So while “Go Grey in May” is a call to a particular type of cancer, and the desire to bring awareness so that more and greater research can be done to fight the disease and bring a cure… every month needs to be important. One month out of twelve doesn’t cut it for me. I want a resolution now and a 30 day barrage, even though it is better than none, seems rather lack-luster against the need for focused and non-biased research toward a cure for Cancer.  The point is, “big business” may trend toward high priced ways to prolong life, ending in expensive chemicals that while touted as the only way, are just another mere patch, and the real concern is for profits, not cures. That is my opinion!!!

I want my son, my family members and friends, to be as important every month, from the perspective of research for a “Cure”, as they are to us as part of our lives and families. My hair is turning grey… can that be a badge of awareness of how this disease “Brain Cancer” is affecting me, as my heart aches so badly every day, and I am not the one who is afflicted.

My son, Ben, walks towards the edge every day now. Every day there are new challenges, new things to confront his strength and courage, but there are also those things that bring great joy and pleasure while on the journey. I can only be aware and prepared, as my greatest joy is being by his side while a new project is undertaken and finds completion. I smile at the curious new takes he finds on living and approaching ideas and structure in life. His mind swirls with ideas, plans and while most are aimed at his future, some are directed at me. I get tidbits of reality check and not a day goes by that he doesn’t remind all of us that struggle is just a word.

I see that in all those for whom I am praying. Some have been in the battle a long time, while others are new and still trembling from the news. All are important… not all are grey for May… each day is part of the battle and each month is one month more to await a true cure.

So, we are going grey, in our family, in May… each in our own way, but we feel the stress of others as they wear the colour representing their cancer, for their month of importance. It is another walk to the edge, a much different edge perhaps this month, but nevertheless, we are not alone. God walks with my Ben and he walks with so many more who have turned their lives daily to the God who creates and sustains… even in the midst of this illness… that terrible and horrifying word… “Cancer!”