BRINGING AWARENESS TO AN IMPORTANT CAUSE
Anyone who has read my blog for even a short period of time has probably figured out one of the foremost purposes in my life is bringing awareness to an important cause. You will often find me working and advocating to draw more awareness to domestic/intimate partner violence and sexual abuse. Those are MY causes. Those are my passions. This weekend I learned the importance of bringing awareness to other important causes, whether or not they are related to domestic violence. We want to see survivors. We can continue to work for our purpose and passion, but we do not have to box ourselves into only one cause.
I got up early, on a Saturday. Without any coffee poured into my system, hubby packed up his camera and off we went to the baseball stadium only a few miles away. You see, last year, just before the ABC Action News prime time special, “Taking Action Against Domestic Violence” aired, featuring my story, one of the four reporters who covered the program was told she had breast cancer. She was brave enough to stand before the cameras and announce it herself. I wept, almost having to gasp for breath. It was Linda. How could this be happening? She was young and beautiful, bright and gifted. I knew she had a wonderful family. It was such a level of irony as she sat there at the desk, her hand being held tightly by the male anchor, another anchor touching her shoulder. She is the health reporter there.
Linda began to reassure us that all would be well. She would be okay. It was an early diagnosis and her chances of recovery were excellent. The staff of this station had become an extended family for me. They occupied a portion of my heart. With Facebook as a line of communication, Linda kept us updated, shared pictures (the good, bad and ugly), and she let us know how she was progressing. Pride nor embarrassment got in the way of her sharing the details of her story. She has been very transparent throughout the entire process, and through that has provided a path for others to follow. Her now famous phrase, “Get that mammogram,” receives responses of, “I did,” or “After seeing you on ABC, I decided to go get a mammogram. Thank God I did. They found the cancer early, and my chances are great.” I got my mammogram at Christmas, and considered it a gift to her. Linda had a bilateral mastectomy. She returned to work, took another break for a second surgery, and she’s back at the news desk―cancer free.
The Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure was held in my hometown for the first time today. I wanted to be there to show support for Linda and a dear long time friend of mine, Barb. I had to be there. It was that portion of my heart kicking in, my ABC family that has touched so many lives on so many levels, bringing awareness to an important cause other than domestic violence. How could I not be there to show support simply because it was not relevant to the causes I so vehemently pursue?
In addition to the field of domestic violence, I actively work for heart health awareness and am a spokesperson for the American Heart Association. It is also my cause. But, cancer? Nobody in my family has had cancer outside of relatives by marriage. It is just not a priority for me. Important? Yes, but not a priority.
I met Linda’s husband today. What a gem he is, and what a support system he (and his mother) have provided during this time. That brought me to consider how important it is when we are dating to only accept a relationship with a man who would make the consummate single parent, in the event, God forbid, our lives were ended abruptly. Could they care for two (or three) little girls? Would they know how important it is to have nail polish on fingers and toes? Could they help select a prom gown? I now know there are such men out there. I’ve been blessed and honored to meet several husbands (and dads) I am convinced could fill that pair of shoes.
I watched a big man run the 10K in a bikini―in icy cold weather! Who was he running for? What a bold statement to make. Breast cancer awareness meant a lot to him. He certainly ran for a cause.
As I stood inside the stadium, survivors flowed into the seats―some having survived for a year or less, like Linda, some survivors for over 30 years, and one who has survived breast cancer for 42 years. Barb is an 18-year survivor. There were also male survivors. Like a brick it hit me: What had they felt when they were first told they had breast cancer? I mean, surely it first came across as a death sentence. There had to be more fear than could be imagined. But these were survivors. They had looked death in the face, and spit! They clearly gave the message, just as Molly Brown, boldly saying, “I ain’t down yet! You’re not taking me without a fight! Game on!”
I came to the realization today that our cause of domestic violence is critically important, but it is not the only cause. We can support each other, and help make a difference for the good when and where it is needed. I set some time aside, apart from my own passion for my cause, to bring awareness to another important cause―supporting survivors of breast cancer.
Yes, I learned a valuable life lesson. Our causes are priceless treasures and we fight with all our might to change things so the evils and diseases have less of a chance at taking a life. We are determined to keep victims alive, to see them transition into SURVIVOR. To give them hope for a future, and belief it will happen.
I may not be spending hour upon hour working in the trenches against breast cancer. You see, my trenches are against domestic violence and sexual abuse. That is where I am bringing awareness to an important cause―domestic violence. That’s my purpose―it’s why I’m alive. I was created to come against what almost took me out, just as Linda Hurtado is now coming against what tried to take her down. We both have our important causes, and we are both passionate about them. We work together against domestic violence and breast cancer. I suspect in the future I will occasionally take a stand for other important causes. But rest assured, after this weekend, every chance I get, I will encourage every woman to have those mammies grammed!
To view photos of the Race for the Cure event, click here.