The Fight Must Go On

The night was pitch black. The minimal stars sitting up high in the sky only served as a reminder that we were still in the universe, and the distant street lights and sounds of passing cars were muted while walking across the field.

The grass was cold against my bare feet, and I held the neon pink glow stick inside my shaking hand as every single memory of my fifth and sixth grade years came back to me.

I wasn’t the only one there who had these memories rush into my head. Everyone who had cracked open the glow-stick had something about cancer to remember.

The whole field was silent. The occasional sniffle could be heard, and the tear stained cheeks were inevitable to avoid the longer you walked in silence.

The longer I walked, the more memories rushed into my head, and the more memories eventually made me break down.

I never enjoyed crying in front of people, and normally I don’t. I cry alone, because I’ve always hated crying in front of people and feeling pitied for my tears. But I was surrounded by so many people, and when I knew I wasn’t the only one crying, I didn’t hold the tears back anymore.

Photo Credit: Pinterest

I never had cancer, but the speaker last night was right. In a way, when a loved one gets cancer, it consumes you too. It affects you too. It takes up your mind and heart. My father got cancer, and it killed a part of me too when it killed him.

Cancer is the deadliest weapon of all.

It’s the cause of the pang in your heart when you first find out they were diagnosed.

It’s the weeks spent in hospital waiting room during examinations and testing.

Then there’s the news that the cancer is gone. You think they’re finally safe, until the cancer fights back, and it comes back worse and worse, until it eventually takes over and kills.

It’s weeks of watching the life in the eyes of your friends or family fade away. When they go from being healthy, lively souls, to being trapped in their beds with no energy to get out.

It’s the fight that soon becomes too hard to keep continuing.

The consequence of cancer isn’t always death, but it’s the long suffering before it.

Not every cancer story ends with a cure.

Not every cancer story ends in a peaceful death.

In fact, most of them don’t. The cancer eats up everything. It eats up their health, and their happiness, and their motivation until all there is left is remnants of hope and loved ones close trying to help continue the fight for them.

But that was what the walk was for. We were fighting for those who couldn’t fight anymore. I was fighting for my dad who was hoping for a cure, and didn’t get one. Who didn’t win the fight. Every year I walk with survivors, caretakers, and friends to continue the fight, so that one day, the war against cancer will finally be won.

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Just A Thought

Every day when I wake up, I find myself thinking about things that may be important to me at that moment; if my hair is straight, how my skin looks or if my outfit is figure-flattering… but in all honesty, all of this is irrelevant.

We spend so much time focused on the things that make us temporarily happy like looking skinny or driving a nice car or having the most likes on an Instagram picture, but why does any of this matter? What is the purpose?

Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy social media and feeling confident and purchasing nice things, but what REALLY matters? That is my question.

I feel like we focus too much on the superficial, rather than the necessary.

I am speaking from watching family members and friends suffer through the horrifying effects of cancer, Crohn’s, and Alzheimer’s, not through personal experience of these diseases; but when your health, your life, your comfort is threatened, all of those factors change.

You begin to focus on your comfort, your happiness, your health… unfortunately, the reality check came because of the diagnosis of an illness, but that’s when you start to realize what is sincerely important.

I experienced a drastic change in my health two years ago after I experienced a surgical complication, and I remember how things changed.

For a while after that surgery, I remained in a mood of distress, in constant physical pain. But through this, I was able to realize how strong my primal instincts were; I remember those feelings dynamically, and they will never escape me.

After reading an article surrounding the effects of cancer earlier this evening, I remembered how I felt then and reevaluated how lucky I am now.

This article hit me right in that spot that nobody wants to be touched, the one where your throat swells and your eyes throb and you breathe deeply to stop the emotions you are feeling from consuming you.

Now when I wake up in the morning, I will look at myself and think about how lucky I am to be alive, to be healthy, to be eating my breakfast, to have a family, to have a roof over my head, and to have each of the opportunities before me that I do.

I am happy, I am healthy, I feel terrific.

 

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Cheese Cures Cancer?

credit phillymag.com

To brie, or not to brie may no longer be the question.

Everything these days seems to cause cancer.

Alcohol, meat, air fresheners, candles, art supplies, shampoos, conditioners, and even sunscreen.

Yes, sunscreen. The thing that is supposed to save you from the harmful rays of the sun and the secret to beautiful skin may slowly be killing all of us…Yay!

But eating good ol’ sharp cheddar or a nice gouda perhaps may help cure cancer.

The “tasty mold” may end up kicking cancers booty because of the nisin in cheese

Don’t know what nisin is? Well basically it is a natural food preservative that grows in dairy products.

This natural preservative has been shown to help battle cancer and other lethal bacteria when given to mice.

Now this theory is still in the testing stages, but it does sound PARMmising.

 

 

 

 

A Big, Calming Hug

It happens in an instant,

the moment they become distant.

Each memory merely a snapshot,

frozen in your mind.

Smile for the picture,

a big, calming hug goodbye,

no more little tears left to cry.

Now there are only real tears,

the ones that come from your biggest fears,

the ones that leave you empty,

a body heaving for air,

for love,

for a nice, calming hug.

No.

There are no more reassuring words,

from the one that makes your whole world.

No more smiles as you bite into your freshly baked cookie,

no more cheers on the soccer field,

no more hugs when you’re sad,

no more hugs when you’re glad,

no more,

no more.

Is it nice to miss class when you want?

Is it nice to get “mental health days?”

WHAT THE HECK.

It is NOT nice to have to miss class to see a therapist,

to talk about “feelings” and ways to help your crippling anxiety,

when missing class causes even more stress,

then being there.

It is NOT nice to stay in bed gasping for air,

tears everywhere,

in your hair,

eyes,

pillow,

sheets.

It is NOT nice to lose a parent to cancer.

It is NOT nice to hear your condolences.

Don’t think of yourself as a hero for saying “sorry.”

Don’t fling around a word you don’t mean.

Don’t tell me you know how I’m feeling.

JUST LEAVE.

I don’t want a hug,

not from you.

I only want a big, calming hug.

If only I had the person here to give it to me.null

Time Limit

When you really stop and think about it there is a time limit on everything. Homework assignments, projects, childhood, innocence, love, and even life. Most people don’t stop and think about having a limit on things that seem so long-term until they are forced to.

My godfather Leon was diagnosed with squamous cell cancer back in 2010. When I first heard he was sick I was shocked and over come with a million different emotions. I never thought that someone so kind-hearted and eternally generous would be punished with such a terrible curse.

Photo Credit: http://www.c2.staticflickr.com

I was in a state of denial when my parents told me he was sick. The first time I saw him after he had started treatment was heart breaking. He was so thin, so tired and so weak.

Eventually the cancer spread and he had to get surgery. The surgery that he had been on his thyroid.

All of the memories I had with him, Leon always had a beard. The first time I ever saw him without one was after his surgery. In place of his beard was a scar reaching from the left side of his throat to the right side. While that surgery scarred Leon on the outside, it seemed as if his personality and courage  weren’t scarred at all.

After undergoing numerous rounds of radiation and chemo and going to doctors appointments after doctors appointments we had to accept that there is no cure.

Most people would just give up after this, saying that they have nothing else to live for, but not Leon. Throughout this terrible experience he has been the so optimistic. I have never heard him complain about his time limit.

If I could sum my godfather, Leon Azis, up into one word it would be: inspiration. To see someone who is so close to your heart go through that and not give up hope and to be so strong is unbelievably inspiring and amazing.

All I can do now is cherish the time that I have left with him and not focus on the limited amount of time, and just appreciate the time I’ve been lucky enough to have with him.

RELAY FOR LIFE!!!

Relay for Life is an extremely amazing event sponsored by the American Cancer Society. I have gone to if for the past 2 years, and I was looking forward to this years event. I had been counting down the days to Relay for Life for a while, and I was so excited when it finally came.

In the weeks leading up to RFL, I had been trying to raise money for the cause and needed $100 to participate in the overnight portion. So, I asked all of my family and friends and within just about a week, I raised the money that I needed. Overall, out school team raised $3,210! I thought that was pretty amazing. For that, we received a Bronze Medal award which means that we were a very valuable contributor.

I left early with my friend Evan to help set up our booth on Buena Ventura High School‘s track/football field. We decorated our booth with colorful paper flowers in support of this years “fiesta” theme, due to Cinco de Mayo. We also had a lot of colorful posters and other decorations. We sold these paper flowers, ceramic mugs & bowls, and auctioned off themed baskets including chocolate, beach, spa, and movie themes, in order to raise more money for the American Cancer Society.

At our booth, we had a lot of fun costumes and hats, and all of the students that came to support the cause dressed up in ridiculous outfits including banana suits and Dr. Seuss attire and walked laps. There was live music, fun games, and many cool and informative booths to visit, with anything from face painting to a bike auction.

In last year’s event, a couple who were cancer survivors had their wedding right on the field. It was a very special event and meant a lot to them. This year, sadly, the man’s cancer has returned. Fortunately, he was able to show up at the event with his wife, and it was very inspirational. He was walking around and having a good time. It was great to see all of the support they had from people at the event and I’m so glad they were able to come this year.

After dinner time, and after returning from a Battle of the Bands contest at Thacher school, my friend Wendy and I returned to the track to walk in the night portion of the event. There were a lot less people walking during the night, and it was very tiring. There were only 5 of us, until at about 12 o’clock, another faculty member and her boyfriend showed up to help us out. I think throughout the night, we managed to keep at least 1 member of our team on the track. Wendy and I took naps in hour increments, but it was too cold to actually sleep, and we would get up from time to walk some laps and warm ourselves up.

It was a very great experience. The Luminaria lit up around the track were very inspirational and a reminder that there have been so many people effected by cancer. It kept me walking and helped me realize how lucky I am to not have been effected too harshly by this disease, and also the importance of the support I was giving to this event.

Overall, the event was really great and I am so glad I have had these last 3 years to support a great cause. Hopefully, with all the money raised through all the Relay for Life events, more progress will be made in order to minimize the devastating effects of cancer and help find a cure. I am proud to say that was part of the OVS team. We did such a great job and I hope we continue this effort in the years to come.

Ojai Valley School continues to Relay

In the past two years, I have been one of the many students from Ojai Valley School to attend an amazing event called Relay for Life. It is sponsored by the American Cancer Society to raise people’s awareness and fight against cancer in a fun and community-oriented event.

When I first signed up to attend the Relay for Life event at Buena High school in Ventura, I had no idea what it was about. But within no time, there were hundreds of people and tents set up all around the track with different information, games, prizes, raffles, and live music as well. Everyone was walking or running around the track, and it was a great feeling to see all of these dedicated people in once place.

All of the teams, including the OVS team, raises money ahead of time to donate to the American Cancer Society to help research. Last year, our school raised over $5,000, earning us the Silver award, which means we donated in the middle category of high-level contributors. Although OVS is a little school, we are still mighty. Donating $5,000 is such an amazing contribution that I never could have even imagine for us.

This year, OVS is in the game once again – we even have our own Ojai Valley School page on the Relay for Life website where there is information and an opportunity to donate to this great cause. (Click on the link to go to the page)

Personally, I absolutely CANNOT WAIT for the Relay for Life event this year. It has been an amazing experience in the past, and I’m sure we can contribute just as much if not more this time. So far, we have $50 worth of donations, but I know how supportive our school will be and the donations will grow greatly over time. If money isn’t an option, anyone can contribute by attending the event and walking, running, or just being there to support. The first year was great, the second was even better, and I’m looking forward to a flat out amazing time this year.

I highly encourage everyone to check out the Relay for Life website and our school’s personal page and help support the fight against cancer!