Stoic Stories

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It will be a tsunami of pink. This Saturday -- just like the 20-plus past Saturdays in April -- the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure will be held in Indianapolis.

Balloons the color of Pepto-Bismol will fill the downtown's Military Park and woman after woman along with friends and family will come out to walk and run. They’ll use the morning to bask in their good health or send a rallying cry to the gods that next year, on a similar newly minted spring morning their health will be intact once again.

For those not able to ride the wave of pink tomorrow morning or any morning in the future, friends and family remember, honor and put one foot in front of the other, hoping for a cure to end breast cancer for the many women and men who continue to battle the disease. This 5K along with its Family One-Miler are short distances that signify a long, arduous walk in so many lives.

Last year's 16,000 runners helped raise more than a million dollars for the fight against breast cancer. - COURTESY OF THE WIKIMEDIA FOUNDATION
  • Courtesy of the Wikimedia Foundation
  • Last year's 16,000 runners helped raise more than a million dollars for the fight against breast cancer.

I am a late night reader. Along with that I am also a late night watcher and much to my scale's dismay a late night eater, but it is in those dark hours that I discover things. Often I climb into bed with my old laptop and click on the most recent email from the New York Times.

Instead of that tsunami of pink I mentioned earlier, it is a tsunami of print, and I find myself perusing the paper's sections including the Arts, moving thru Opinion and hunkering down in the Health segment. Last time I was in the Well section bunker, I tripped over the Faces of Breast Cancer.

As a part of special features, this area is for “someone living with breast cancer, loving someone with breast cancer or worrying about your own risk for breast cancer.” It's a global community of men and women, sharing their insights from their experiences with this disease. It's a capsule of so many faces and stories, but the eyes in the photos grab you first. Those eyes are sick but fighting, victorious yet still in the trenches.

We live our story every day. If you're anything like me, your story often becomes the only story. It is a rarity to dig that big, fat head out of the sand and take a look around for a little relativity. But to tell a story takes energy and art and honesty. And to tell a story when life is at its scariest or you feel that you are on the precipice of life as you know it changing, ending or perhaps worse -- not knowing what it holds for you or your loved ones -- well, how do you even begin to tell your story to yourself and to the world? And that is what was so amazing to witness in this collection of brief essays -- how each person on this site told his or her story through photos and words. During the darkest time, they dug their big, fat heads out of the sand and shared their story with all who wanted to bear witness.

My friend Melissa Jensen told her story on camera at the 2009 Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure. She was 41, a mother of lovely teenage girl, and she was fighting cancer. She lost her battle the following October, but she gave it her all, her everything. And to top it all off, she gave words to her fight.

She was an outspoken advocate for providing support to women and their families as they navigated cancer and the exhausting treatment it so frequently required. She never buried her head but shared her story to make a difference in people's lives or make you feel damn lucky about your own.

To fight cancer, you need science but you need something else too -- vulnerability. The two couldn't be more different from each other, right? Science has control and prediction whereas vulnerability is all about putting yourself out there with no guarantees. To tell your story (through whatever medium you choose) means you have put yourself out there with no assurance that by sharing you will end up on the winning side. But by telling your story with your whole heart, perhaps you have already won.

Here’s to all the tellers and their supporters who will be out there tomorrow. I wish you all well.

If you have a cancer story you'd like to share with Sky Blue Window, please do so here.

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