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I have learned a lot in the past few years, the past few weeks, and especially in the past few hours.
As many of you know, my Aunt's battle with cancer has been filled with bumps in the road, mountains to overcome, But through it all, there has always been one of the most important things every journey needs and that's; progress.
My aunt has continued to fight, to progress forward. Our family has supported her, stepped up in the ways we can and know how to. Our knowledge, our support, our ability to fight along side of her, has progressed. We are stronger together today than we were nearly 5 years ago when her diagnosis came in.
I think about all of the other elements where progress comes into play. Years ago, the course of action for cancer patients was non existent because there was no research, no knowledge.
If you fast forward to the present time, the amount of progress that has been made is tremendous. Billions of dollars have gone into research funding and it has saved millions of lives. Knowledge is available to everybody, whether it's how to give yourself a self breast exam or knowing how old you should be to get your first colonoscopy. It's available, it's helpful, and it saves lives.
Over the last 100 years, the American Cancer Society, being one of the top funders for cancer research, has helped make such progress happen. But they have taken progress another step forward.
Their programs that they offer to cancer patients is incredible, truly and utterly incredible. Today, I got to see first hand some of their programs in action!
Over the past few years, my aunt has been one of the few cancer patients who hasn't lost her hair throughout her course of treatment. The past radiation treatment though, has caused her hair to fall out. It's interesting how hair impacts how you feel. When she found out that this round of radiation would cause her hair loss, she told me:, "I was hysterically crying. Here I am, recovering from brain surgery and I'm crying because the doctors are telling me I'm going to lose my hair. And then I started laughing, because I realized I was crying over my hair."
But your hair, I believe now, is a part of your identity. It's a part of how you see yourself, and how others see you. When you think about it, when you see bald women or women wearing scarves around their heads, don't you find yourself assuming they're cancer patients? I have, I'm 100% guilty of it. Looking from the outside of the situation, the loss of your hair is almost as though you're letting the world into your battle. It eliminates a layer of the privacy you have, in some cases it can make people look at you differently. And honestly, who wants that?
But today I got to experience the ACS in action! My aunt participated in their Look Good, Feel Better program before she had her free wig fitting. The Look Good, Feel Better program is all about self confidence. Trained volunteers apply makeup to cancer patients, showing them tips and tricks to make them look better than ever. I can tell you after my aunt got her make up done, you could instantly tell by the smile on her face just how much of a boost it gave her self esteem.
Seeing her smile, my cousin smile and just bask in her beauty was so utterly amazing. It was a wonderful reminder to remember the beauty you have, because it never fades, it only progresses. After her make up was on and she looked stunning, we moved onto finding her a free wig! We tried on different shades, different cuts, styles, real hair, synthetic hair and everything in between! When she tried on the wig that she would call her own, her face lit up. We all knew this was the one. She looked breathtaking.
In our duel session, there were 4 cancer patients, all with their families. It was as though we all knew each other because we could all relate. We all knew what the other was feeling because we have all experienced it. Everybody was helping everybody find wigs, give their opinions and helped one another find their perfect fit.
It was one of those moments that gave me faith in our human race. We spent the afternoon with strangers, with no judgement, only support and love. It was a reminder that great things, great moments can come from such heart wrenching experiences.
It was an afternoon I won't forget, it was an experience I'm glad I got to have with my aunt and cousin through this cancer journey. Even under such circumstances, we are able to smile, to laugh and to love. That's what family is all about.
This experience though has made me want to raise even more for Relay for Life. The funds raised not only go toward research, but it goes towards funding local programs just like the Look Good, Feel Better program. Without such donations, my aunt would have never gotten to participate, she wouldn't of gotten a beautiful, free wig. She would not have had the chance to not worry about such things. Today has fueled me even more to fight, to raise, to be more aware, to learn more, to feel more and to share it all with those around me.
Please consider donating, even $1 will help in the fight against cancer. It's a fight that one day I hope & pray families will never have to endure.
My name is Kristina and I'm the founder of Love Struck. Read about how Love Struck came to be, see how I make it happen or just read a random thought I just might have! Anything can happen at our blog & I wouldn't have it any other way! It's time to get Love Struck, and what better way to start than right here!