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‘Why Am I making STRIDES for a cause?

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2010 Susan G Komen Cancer Awareness Walk – Philadelphia Art Museum.

Recently, my older daughter has been so excited since I announced that she was allowed to express her creative side by making her own poster and banner to display her support for awareness and also celebrate survivorship during the upcoming Annual Breast Cancer walk.

This will be my 4th year participating in the cancer awareness walk, which means it is now an accepted period where I get to drag my entire family with me. Come rain or shine! So by now, I’d figured they were used to it and are immune to community-based activities. Well, till now…Hmm!

So, to my utmost surprise the other day, my 8-year-old-son asked ‘Mommy, why do you walk? You don’t have cancer anymore! It was like a light bulb flickered on in my head! I needed to get my facts right to be able to convince and inspire this young man so he can continue to carry the torch of selflessness in service and spirit of humanitarianism, even when I am long gone…

I looked at him, went down to his level and held his hands “I walk and raise money because I believe that I am supporting an organization that helped save your mom because of their awareness campaign, commitment to fund community education and early diagnosis.

I walk because I have encountered the success of early detection, I walk because I have been on both receiving ends of a diagnosis.

I walk because I feel the pain a family goes through when they are informed about a diagnosis of cancer. I will continue to walk to honor and fight for the people who have died from cancer, or un-aware of how to go about receiving treatment, I will continue to walk to support cancer awareness, treatment and research.

During the WALK, hidden away from everyone around me, I usually get all teary but inspired by the end of the line, I get to meet over 1000 people cheering me on and I get to feel like a celebrity. Awesome!! As I walk through the finish line wearing my survivor medal (which my daughter made for me). Random people hug me, but most importantly – the finish line symbolizes a closure to pain and the beginning of a new life which is my contribution to getting closer to abolishing cancer – in all its forms.

As we get closer to the WALK day, I pray someone will seize the opportunity to find a reason to put everything on hold and join the WALK to support and raise a platform of awareness. To WALK not for recognition and not to make light of the disease, the struggle, or the loss. But to celebrate life and have people express their joy in surviving and living.

And as we all come together to WALK, let’s have in mind that we are making a HUGE difference in the one way we can. In the end, we feel like one community that is doing something extra ordinary. The experience of seeing the survivors walk into the closing ceremonies and the power and strength of those people is a life-altering moment and I feel blessed to be able to be a part of it – every year.

Yinka

Written for: American Cancer Society.

Written for: TUMBLR Book Club – ‘Real Life Conversation with Yinka.

 

 

 

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Any plans for October? Anything Special? Here’s an open invitation into mine!

womanOctober is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, a chance to raise awareness about the importance of early detection of breast cancer. Make a difference! Spread the word about mammograms and encourage communities, organizations, families, and individuals to get involved.

This is the month where I get super-empowered to win the cause, where I get to talk-non-stop about CANCER AWARENESS, pressure and maybe annoy some friends and colleagues with more emails and articles about early detection, a month where I get to show off all the friends I made during treatment, wear Pink like it’s the new white! ‘Remember those we lost, who couldn’t win the race but whose legacies lives on and inspires us, a month where I get to celebrate and HUG so many people at the finish line! Probably the month where I get to say more of “Yes! I am a conqueror! Only by God’s mercy!

But before then, I know we’ve all had one of those days when nothing seems to be going right. You have a bad toothache, lost a button on your way to work, bump your head, struggled with that zipper again! The ‘R’ key on your keyboard is not cooperating. The car will not start, One-hour drive takes two. A missed call from the school nurse, you and your spouse can’t seem to agree on that issue. The kids can’t seem to stop screaming. The day becomes a series of small annoyances that get under your skin. Or maybe you’re struggling with a deeper pain, a more stubborn stressor. Maybe you’ve recently experienced a difficult loss. Whatever the reason, you may want a break away from that negative feelings and bask in a brighter day. Flip the coin over, you are still blessed!

Probably what you need is an encounter with people whose morning is usually a dreadful ride to the hospital, for another round of Chemo treatment, another session of Biopsy, another period of Infusion – this is nothing compared to the annoying printer at work!

Sometime ago, at Abramson Cancer center, next to me sat a middle-aged lady who was receiving IV treatment and deep in thoughts, I don’t think she even noticed my presence. One of the oncology nurses walked over, nodded in my direction and gave us both extra pillows. With my questioning look, she urged me to go ahead and engage her if I wanted.

Every time I tried looking her way to start a conversation she will quickly look away with a disgruntled sign. I began to feel uncomfortable. About 30 minutes into our IV treatment, she looked my way and said “Honey, tell me, how do you feel when people look at you and feel sorry for you? Or when they call you hurtful names? Like…Baldy? You know…’cos am losing my hair gradually!

Ah! My heart melted, wasn’t sure if I was happy she was making conversation with me or just because I needed someone to talk to. I stretched as far as my wired-up iron IV could take me, grabbed her in my arms and held on to her for as long as I could remember. The embrace was warm, cordial and spoke volume. I looked her up in the face, using a calm tone, “Honey, it doesn’t matter – I’ve been called different names too especially behind me. Names like… “Dying Woman” “Sick lady” but guess what? ‘Am still living and looking great!

But really, I said, looking down at the gorgeously crafted emerald-green diamond ring she has on her feeble finger, I tilted her face up and said “Sweetheart, even God knows you will eventually be bald someday, that’s why He made you a “drop-dead-gorgeous-baldy! Especially with this ring you have on! ‘You sure are one parade of envy and beauty to behold! That line made the blood rush from her neck to her face, she swallowed quick and hard, which gave way to reveal the cutest dimples ever! “Really? She asked… I grabbed my bag, pulled out my small compact mirror and shoved it at her face… ‘Here look inside…you are wonderfully created by God! That moment, the spell broke! The floral bandana covering her head came tumbling down!

We became children again. We giggled and laughed so hard we started shedding tears. Tears of ‘Thank-God-you-feel-me” and not “feel-sorry-for-me” joy. The nurses came around, with questioning looks and amazement and of course that silly scene earned us extra free hospital-pack graham crackers and cranberry juice!

So, we all face difficult times that make us want to shelter our hearts. When people we love hurt us, it is a natural reaction to want to shield ourselves, and put protection around our hearts, to keep pain from entering. A shut down heart makes it impossible to open up and allow in happiness, great opportunities, and good people. However, when we open our heart, we have room for growth, forgiveness, and change. Most of all, we can let love in, again. To open our heart to someone means exposing the scars of the past. When pure sincerity forms within, it is outwardly realized in other people’s hearts.

This month, I am hoping that someone will humbly give genuine and unconditional love. To make this month a memorable one by reaching out to a just cause and be proactive. Like my dear friend “Ms. Baldy” who even during her chemo treatment was still able to open up and love again. I am so looking forward to seeing her at the upcoming walk – where I can HUG her again and remind her about how beautiful she’s still looking, bald or not. She’s a living testimony to connect with. Do something extra ordinary this month, Encourage someone with sincere humor, Support a just cause! Donate, Advocate, or Walk with me during the 2014 Making Strides for Breast Cancer awareness on OCT 18th.

Yours in Hope…

Yinka.

http://main.acsevents.org/goto/yinkalawrence

 

 

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