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Letter To The Editor - American Cancer Society

 

Melissa Stephens

American Cancer Society

Community Representative

 

To the Editor:

Cancer really affected me when my grandmother was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in March 2008. By May 18 of that year, she took her last breath on this earth. Her passing was incredibly hard on my entire family but it hit my mom the hardest. After her passing, the only memory I have of it all was my mom saying over and over again, “I wish we had one more day. I wish we knew when the end was so we could have done more with the time we had.” Those words spoke to me so deeply. With the memory of my grandma and her selfless outlook on life impressed upon me, I felt compelled to prevent another family from going through what my family just went through.

I signed up for the National Kidney Donor Registry and waited impatiently for any news. When I didn’t hear any, I took matters into my own hands and reached out to an organization called Matching Donors. That same day, I was matched up with a man who was dying from polycystic kidney disease. As the weeks passed, I pushed through testing, interviews and psychiatric evaluations and suddenly the day arrived: I would have the opportunity to save another’s life. As my body healed from the surgery, so did my heart. I miss my grandma dearly, but having the opportunity to give life back to someone in her memory reminds me of her giving and open-hearted nature.

Cancer changed me. It made me realize how precious life is. It made me thankful for each day I have. It made me want to help others. Relay For Life does the exact same. At the event, we celebrate the loved ones who have survived. We remember those we have lost. And we fight back against this terrible disease stealing our loved ones from us. I encourage anyone who has ever been affected by cancer to come check out the Relay For Life of LaGrange County. The event is indescribable and the sense of love, opportunity, wholeness and closure you get from it is tremendous.

I share my story to help those going through the same thing my family did. The American Cancer Society is here to help. Whether you are looking to prevent cancer or you’re looking for support, the American Cancer Society can help. With free prevention screenings, transportation to and from treatment, free consultations with cosmetologists, free lodging, free emotional support, free information…the list is endless. If you don’t know where to start, call 1-800-227-2345.

If you are looking to become more involved, please call me at 260-471-3911 or e-mail me at melissa.stephens@cancer.org. I know if we work together, we can put an end to this disease.