“Here’s looking at you.” We all know that great line from Humphrey Bogart to Ingrid Bergman in Casablanca. I tend to remember interesting lines from movies. How about “You can’t handle the truth.” That was Jack Nicholson yelling at Tom Cruise in A Few Good Men. Or how About this one. “Cancer.”
That's a bit more obscure. It was Judd Nelson talking to Alley Sheedy in an old favorite of mine called St Elmo’s Fire. In it, he said there are a few words that are just too awful to say out loud, so, you have to whisper them. Like, Mrs Smith has “cancer.” I thought that was pretty funny, and probably used that line a few times.
About ten years after that movie came out, I got that phone call that many of you here can relate to. It was my Dad. “Chris, I have cancer. Prostate cancer.” He didn’t whisper it.
Immediately the line “you can’t handle the truth” came to mind. How can my Dad have cancer? That can’t be right. But, it was.
After the initial shock, we talked frankly about it and planned our attack on it. And thanks to the great care of the doctors at Ohio State, he is still around to talk about it. That was 14 years ago.
Oddly, it was ten years after that phone call that got another call. This time it was my brother. “Chris," he said. "I have cancer. Prostate cancer." He didn’t whisper it either. Again, we talked, planned and called the docs at Ohio State. He too is cancer free to this day.
I don’t whisper the word cancer anymore. Because cancer is not about to go away if we shy away from it. It is a fact of life. A fact that all of you here are intimately familiar with. We have all, in one way or another learned to handle the truth. The truth that cancer affects so many of us. The truth that cancer kills. The truth that cancer affects not only the lives of the people with cancer but the lives of all of their friends and family.
But, part of handling the truth is acceptance, and part of acceptance is learning that we can’t whisper the word cancer. We need to fight it. We have learned to fight by supporting programs that encourage early screening. We support research for better treatments. We support agencies that are there for the emotional and financial support of those families going through cancer. And, we simply provide our own personal support for those that we know that are going through it. It takes that sense of community to help us beat cancer and that is why we are all here today. We have learned to handle the truth. We don’t whisper the word cancer.
Here’s lookin at you.
POSTED AUGUST 2, 2010