When I was a boy, I lived for Saturday mornings. I’d wait all week for that glorious morning where for hours I could sit uninterrupted. Just me and a bowl full of highly condensed pieces of sugar drowning in cool milk. I would sit enthralled as I watched the bravery of Batman. I was stunned by the selflessness of Spiderman. I watched the X-men work together to battle evil and help the world. These were my heroes. I dreamed of one day wielding a light saber in defense of truth and virtue, of having super powers that I used for the good of mankind, fighting the evil villains who I despised. I wanted to fight the good fight and be on the front lines. But changes have occurred in my life. I’d rather eat a healthful breakfast and catch a little football on Saturday mornings before running off to work or campus to study for an upcoming test. Now instead of preparing to wear a cape and roam the streets at night, I’m preparing to be a father and to provide for my family.
My fears and enemies are not dressed in creative costumes planning world domination. Now the two things I fear are not being able to support my future family and physical illness. Since my cartoons days until now, I have seen the reality and the destructive wake that cancer brings to individuals and families. The story of James “Rhio” O’Connor is inspiring to me because I can relate to it. In my mind he is a hero and an example of courage and bravery. I love and respect James because he reminds me of my personal heroes. All four of my grandparents have had cancer. Both Grandfathers had skin cancer which was scary but the cancer was removed and they haven’t had any lasting effects.
During my teenage years, I watched my grandmother, Mary Staker, fight breast cancer. I rejoiced with my family as she overcame this. It was frightening and very hard for me to see her in so much pain. Our joy was short lived as the cancer returned to her bones. She took this cancer head on, continuing to fight even though doctors told her that this would take her life. She decided not to go with chemotherapy because of how sick it made her. She wanted to enjoy the time she had left with her loved ones. She came to many of my basketball games, went on a church history tour, went to six flags and even though she was in a wheel chair she rode every ride. She continued to show her miniature horse. She was never happier in her life and never busier. She decided to make the most of everyday and not let pain stop her from enjoying the time she had left. She passed away just after I graduated from High School. She never complained! She taught me to endure and to do it happily.
(Me and Grandma "S" at my high school graduation, about 7 weeks before she died)
A year later I found myself six months into a two year service mission for my church. I was living in
when I was informed over the phone that my other Grandma, Maxine Campbell, had ovarian cancer. She was told she had less than a year to live. I was crushed and feared I wouldn’t see her again in this life. I’m happy to report that 3 years later she still continues to fight. I am amazed at her attitude and astounded by the amount of research she has done to fight this deadly disease. Along with chemotherapy and radiation, she does many things such as drinking certain kinds of water, eating different foods, exercising and combating cancer mentally as well. Virginia
I went and visited her this summer. Witnessing her fight against cancer first hand has changed my life. It made me realize that it is not a matter of having problems in your life, you will have them. What matters are your efforts in combating life’s problems. I enjoyed every minute with her, except when I had a breakfast shake made from pure vegetables.
(Grandma "C" hiking at a family reunion in July 08, about a year after her diagnosis.)
The reality that one day I will have to fight cancer is very real to me and can be daunting. Not smoking or drinking, eating healthful foods, and wearing sun screen are some of the things that I am doing to prevent cancer.
Upon my grandmother’s recommendation, I read two books this past summer, The Secret, by Rhonda Byrne and Anti-Cancer; a New Way of Life, by David Servan-Schreiber. I hope and pray I never have to battle cancer. But if I do, I feel it an imperative duty to my dear Grandmothers to do nothing less than my best, to use all available resources and come up with a plan to combat my form of cancer. I have learned from the examples of James, Mary, and Maxine, that the most important thing in our personal struggles is the will to live and the courage to fight. Vince Lombardi said, “The difference between a successful person and others is not a lack of strength, not a lack of knowledge, but rather a lack of will.” Because of the examples in my life, I to can be a hero as I face the challenges that life brings my way.