Saturday, August 05, 2006

Cancer Awareness Ribbons

This is a cause close to many of us, especially people living in the central valley of California. Cancer runs rampant here - it's almost as common and expected as the flu. Around these parts, it's just a matter of time before someone you love, or you, is touched by it.

Heavy use of agricultural pesticides have taken their accumulative toll on many of us who were born and raised in the Sacramento Valley. We live in the cancer belt of the U.S. The strip from Sacramento to the San Francisco area is in the top 3 cancer of mortality; that's what a hospice nurse told me.

Many of my family and friends have died from various cancers. My mother died of breast cancer six years ago. My father has battled bladder cancer. The list goes on.

My significant other of ten years died of colon cancer eight years ago. Growing up, he worked in the fields every summer vacation at his uncle's ranch in Modesto. He work, breathed, and lived pesticides. The medical profession didn't know then what they do now about pesticides and cancer, but his immune system was comprised early on.

I am now about a year and a half out of my last radiation treatment. Since then, I still keep in touch and have lunch with the few of us who bonded during the months of daily treatments. We've exchanged cancer bracelets, jewelry, and other trinkets that remind us of a grueling time that we shared together...and survived. And then we reflect with sadness of the ones who couldn't be with us for lunch because many died soon after the treatments.

These ribbons at Pat's Graphics are one way to celebrate the people that cancer has touched. Like me, many of us continue on, challenged by the odds against us, our toxic environment, and maybe even some residual karma (according to my Buddhist friends).

I didn't know so many ribbons were designated for such a variety of cancers. This is on my mind again, too. A friend in his early 50's is now going through radiation and chemo for his cancer. So, I'll be putting a lavender ribbon on my web site for David P.