Terry Fox will remain forever 22 in our minds' eyes, but today, had he lived, he would be 50 years old. hmmm... He was 22 when cancer forced him to abandon his legendary hop-along run across Canada to raise funds for cancer research, and just shy of 23 when he died in 1981.
My son turned 23 in June of this year. He has been untouched by cancer -- but not by amputation. Two years running, while M was still in university, his dad lost first one leg, and then the other, to the long-term effects of Type 1 Diabetes, for which there is also, as yet, NO cure. Like Terry, my DH lost first his leg(s), and eventually, his life, to a horrific disease. One that generally takes longer to play out than cancer (in H's case, almost 47 years), but one that includes just as much pain, debilitation, loss, heartache, and struggle -- and results in as much courageous living -- as any and all forms of cancer.
I celebrate Terry and his courage to fight against his disease -- the Elephant in the room for him and his family, that ultimately took his life. He was an inspiration to people fighting such Elephants everywhere.
When it comes to Type 1 Diabetes, remember:
- Insulin is not a cure;
- Transplants are not a cure;
- It is one of the leading causes of blindness and amputation; and
- 25% of all patients on kidney dialysis have diabetes in one form or another.
To those of you fighing cancer, take courage from Terry.
To those of you fighting Type 1 Diabetes, take courage from my DH.
Live each day to the fullest. Love your family, and let your family and friends love and support you. You are not alone. You are loved. Help where you can. Stamp out ignorance by educating others to the reality of your illness, your Elephant in the Room. Ask questions of your doctors. Monitor and supervise your own care and treatment. Take notes. Remember people want to help you, even if some days they are very grumpy. Caregivers -- professional and familial -- cry tears you never see, so they can be strong to meet your needs each day. Be open to them, and they might just open up to you.
Most of all, remember what a blessing you are to the rest of us. You have so much to teach, and we have so much to learn.