Connected- Adj. 1. Joined together 2. Fastened, linked
This is the word that envelops me when I think about the disease of melanoma. We are joined together, not by choice, but rather by a terrifying, life threatening beast. That sounds awful. And it is...but, the connection that it brings is beyond words. And sometimes, we don't even really know how connected we are...until being graced with extraordinary moments of clarity into this connectedness.
As the walk was quickly approaching, an amazing idea was put out into the melanoma community, and we were all given the chance to see this connectedness in action. In brief, this is how it went:
Rev. Carol Taylor of the Melanoma Prayer Center on Facebook had talked to a fellow fighter Judy, who was with another fighter Jen, who was supposed to be walking in the AIM at Melanoma Walk, but couldn't because she is currently in the hospital fighting for her life. Judy had the brilliant idea of "how to make them (Jen and many others who wanted to be there, but couldn't) feel apart of the walk" by making signs with the pictures of those who could not be at the walk, either because they have passed on or because they were currently in treatment, fighting! Rev. Carol kicked this idea into high gear, creating a group message about this....and, as a CONNECTED group of remarkable people, we took an idea, and made it real....because really, when we come together, we seem to be able to make the ordinary, EXTRAordinary!
So, let me tell you this, living with something like melanoma, something that makes me feel extremely powerless at times...when given the opportunity to DO SOMETHING...something productive, positive...you jump all over it! And that's what I did.
I volunteered to make signs. YES! Finally, some action I can take that is helpful in this battle! When I leaped at this idea, I had no idea what kind of a journey it would actually be. There is no way I can describe to you exactly what I experienced in this process, but I can tell you this- it was life changing! Here is a sprinkling of it:
It started out with the printing of pictures.... pictures of faces of people I have never met. 20 pictures, 8.5 X 11 spread all over my office floor. In the process of gluing, taping, sticking, cutting, creating, etc... I had a spiritual experience with these people. I know this is going to sound crazy, and I'm ok with that...because I already know I'm a little bit crazy... I would talk to all of these faces...sometimes laughing with them, sometimes crying. I joked with Bob (who has passed on) about how he may not dig the tie-dye decor I had chosen for his sign, as his picture was of him in a suit. I cried with Jillian (fighting stage IV) and her pup about how crazy life can be. Again, there are no words.
Fast forward to the walk...20 signs were held by so many loving people! Eric, Bob, Judy, Steven, Jen, Jillian, Leslie were all "at the walk"! THIS is what WE do! We make shit happen! WE! As the brilliant Helen Keller said, "Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much."
Black is the New Pink, My Adventures with My Enemy Melanoma, and Respect the Rays all together!
And so it is, WE come together to fight, to connect, to make a difference.....to be WE!