Monday, September 2, 2013

If Only People Cared

If only people cared. I hear that a lot. I say it a lot. The truth is people do care. They do what they can. There is plenty of bad news in this world for each and every one of us to care about. And that is the problem. We are all on cause overload. I am on cause overload.
My Marine Mom friend has a 2.5 -year-old granddaughter, Sophie who has cancer and has been undergoing treatments for about 15 months now.  Many of us have followed Sophie’s progress, her good days and bad days, her absolute courage, on Facebook and on her CaringBridge page. Her family has been courageous too. And on a mission, to help bring to the forefront the fact that childhood cancer is not funded like it should be and to raise awareness. The American Cancer Society only gives one cent of every dollar to Pediatric Cancer research and no one can figure out why this is so.
Approximately 7-9  kids die a day of cancer.  (Statistics are all over the map- I guestimated based on several different reports.)
September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month
I have another Marine Mom friend whose sister died of breast cancer and she has been on a tireless mission to raise money for breast cancer research.  The projected statistics for breast cancer-for 2013- though greatly improved over years past, are daunting still.
·     About 232,340 new cases of invasive breast cancer will be diagnosed in women.
  • About 64,640 new cases of carcinoma in situ (CIS) will be diagnosed (CIS is non-invasive and is the earliest form of breast cancer).
  • About 39,620 women will die from breast cancer
  • Breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in women, exceeded only by lung cancer. (in 2013)
My own personal cause has some big numbers too. Veterans with PTSD and Active Duty/ Veteran Suicides are at an all-time high. I have screamed this from the mountain-top with only those in my shoes taking notice. And maybe some of them found me to be too loud, too crazy, too driven.
According to this 2012 VA report 22 Veterans commit suicide daily. That is one every 80 minutes. Paul Riekhoff, the founder of IAVA (Iraq Afghanistan Veterans of America, stated "The country should be outraged that we are allowing this tragedy to continue. The trends are headed in the wrong direction,” As veterans, we at IAVA understand the spectrum of challenges facing veterans transitioning home, including the struggle with invisible wounds. One thing is clear; we need more research and more collaboration.” 
PTSD awareness is sorely lacking – according to the Center for Ethical Solutions, nearly one soldier in five, or about 300,000 of the 1.6 million soldiers who have served in Iraq or Afghanistan, has post-traumatic stress disorder (“PTSD”) or major depression. My son has suffered from it, which brought it to the forefront for me. It is an invisible wound.
During my son’s time in the Marine Corps, I spent time as a volunteer for a Marine parent’s web- based group. We were an all-volunteer group of moms and dads that worked – we thought, tirelessly for our cause, which was supporting one another and our Marines. Our founder, worked even harder—sometimes around the clock. The message received from her, was that what we did was never enough. Never mind that most of us had jobs, never mind that most of us had families to take care of or that we put anywhere from 5 to 35 hours a week in on top of all that.
I understand now, she was frustrated. She wanted more for our guys and gals in harm’s way.  Like Sophie’s GrandMo is frustrated, Like Jill W. is frustrated, like I am frustrated over the lack of concern for what we think are monumental causes. What she (the founder of the group) didn’t realize then—but may have come to realize at some point was that everyone was just doing the best they could with what they had. It wasn’t ignorance, or apathy that kept them (us) from giving more. We just had no more to give. And who can judge what is too little?
Children are a precious gift—even the older ones. Everyone is somebodies baby. And that gives everything equal importance, in my mind at least.
We need to knock on the doors of corporations and government officials and stop berating our fellow sufferers.  Finesse donations, don’t scream for them.  Be grateful to those who can give time or money and try to understand those who can’t.
All of us just want to help people we love. That is what it all boils down to. There is nothing stronger in this world than love and maybe sometimes it makes us crazy. But I am willing to do what I can for my causes, and my friends causes—because that is what it’s all about.
If any of the above causes ring your bell, please feel free to donate your time or money or hold a fundraiser on behalf.  Or if you have a cause you would like to share about please do. Let’s start looking at these things like we are helping friends, because that is what friends do.
To Donate to Pediatric Cancer:
To Donate to Breast Cancer Research
To Donate for PTSD/ TBI and the Prevention of Suicide for Veterans
Or any local VA VFW center.