To dive head first into the concrete, it’s been over 17 years since i’ve seen my father. He died of a lung cancer that is still almost as universally terminal now as it was when it ravaged his healthy never-smoked-ran-frequently-and-far-ate-oatmeal-tuna-and-veggies-for-breakfast-everyday body.
On the other hand, i do hear his voice. No nearly often enough, but when in need of it i can remember him in his sweet and endearing voice calling “E-liz-a-bethy”. Or when i’m frustrated with people who can’t seem to listen to one another, his well intentioned, but frequently tone deaf call for “harrrrmony” rings in my mind. I remember feeling so angry and and unheard when he’d do that.
Earlier this year my four cousins, along with the rest of our family, also lost their father to lung cancer from causes we are still unsure of. He was much younger than mine by a long shot, and to state the reductive obvious, it blows. So stupid. So sad. Luckily, i, well we, got to celebrate Thanksgiving all together last year. I had just started grad school on the other side of the world and almost didn’t fly out. I’m so glad i went against my logical sense, and that my family could afford the not-planned-so-far-in-advance flight across the Atlantic, to be there. He would have been 52 this week.
My father’s and Mike’s deaths are hardly the only ones to mourn. Each year nearly 160,000 people die of lung cancer in the US of the 1.6 million worldwide. Being only so much of a walking factoid, i had to look up those numbers from the CDC. I had no idea they were so high for just lung cancer.
My cousin Franklin also is a member of the far-too-large fatherless club. His wakesurfed-with-his-dog father was stolen from him and his family when Franklin was just a teenager. For everyone’s sake i won’t do the math on how many missed Father’s Days that adds up to. (In giving this a editor’s once over, Franklin informs me it’s 30 of them. He says he had to use his toes) Stupid brain tumors. Stupid stupid cancer.
Stupid stupid cancer is right. But one thing that has resulted from stupid stupid cancer is that it has turned Franklin into a cycle wielding Inigo Montoya.
Each year he rides in the Pan-Mass Challenge, or the PMC. This year’s the two day, 200 mile charity ride across Massachusetts starts rolling on Saturday. The PMC raises money for the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute through their Jimmy Fund. Dana-Farber’s mission is to help those with cancer NOW fight it to win, and to find more ways to cure cancer in the future. Or to crib from the PMC website “Dana-Farber Cancer Institute’s ultimate goal is the eradication of cancer, AIDS, and related diseases and the fear that they engender.”
eradicate fear that they engender
That’s the kind of people i want on my side. Doctors and nurses and researchers and more who know it’s not just a bodily cure that they’re fighting for—it’s a fight for the day when no family will have to face their lives without a loved one because of cancer. A day when you don’t have to fear you won’t remember the sound of his voice. Or have celebrate his birthday at the game without him. Or that your kids never got to meet him. A day without cancer sob stories like these. That day should be in our lifetime.
For better and worse, bringing that day forward takes money. (If only hospital care and new cancer treatments grew on trees!) Donations from people like you and me help make that happen. Since riders and sponsors cover all the overhead costs, EVERY SINGLE DOLLAR raised does directly to fund Dana-Farber’s unrelenting efforts to treat and cure cancer. There’s no question your donation, no matter how small, WILL make a difference.
So what are you waiting for? Channel your own inner Inigo Montoya, and join the fight by donating now. Not later when Buzzfeed has distracted into forgetting. But NOW. The ride starts this TOMORROW remember!
(Don’t make me send Inigo and the Dread Pirate Roberts after you now.)
One last sappy note
Each year on his jersey Franklin carries his loved ones and the loved ones of those who donate to the cause. The general layout stays the same, but color palette changes from year to year. This year it is in special honor of Mike, who loved to cheer on the Carolina Panthers.
*In addition to some necessary color corrections Franklin requested to be made less bald. I think this is a close approximation of what his hair would look like if he wasn’t forced to shave it each Fathers Day.