Thursday, 16 October 2014

October - Breast Cancer Awareness Month

How many people do you know who have had breast cancer? Off the top of my head, I can think of 4 in recent years who I have known personally; many others who are friends of friends. And in terms of those who have had other forms of cancer, I can can think of many more. The figures are staggering. It seems that those who 'escape' this dreaded disease as a whole, will be less in number than those who will get it. Thankfully, survival rates are going up with each new discovery and new treatment. But there are still many who fight the battle and do not survive. Statistics indicate that a woman has a 1 in 9 chance of developing breast cancer, if she lives until the age of 90. 25% of all cancers afflicting women are breast cancer and 1 in 30 women will die of it. Men are also able to develop breast cancer but the number of those impacted is far less. 

And then there are the hidden victims; the families of those who get one form or another of this disease. 

I suppose the great efforts to fund raise (the last statistic I read stated that over 25 million dollars this year has already been raised for Breast Cancer Research in Canada) is a testament to how many people have been impacted in some way or another by this disease but it also speaks to the great job being done to increase awareness of it and need to be vigilant in seeking out help if there is any concern. The universal pink ribbon that has become a synonymous with Breast Cancer, serves to remind us of those we have lost, those who have fought and won, and the importance of looking after one's health. 

Thursday, 2 October 2014

Friends Forever

Yesterday I had the great privilege and honour to be part of a fantastic event. V!VA Pickering (Retirement Community) hosted a contest called "Friends Forever" where people could enter by submitting a story about a valuable friendship. Open to people 65+, participants had 250 words to tell a story which often encompassed a lifetime of memories. I was asked to be one of 3 judges. The hosts narrowed the submissions down to 9 and had us rate each story across several categories. We then came together and figured out a 'winner'. I have to say all of the stories were remarkable and it was not an easy job coming up with a winner.

We heard about friendships that were a lifetime long, some 50 or 60 years some less but as intense. Each story was unique, touching and special in its own way. The person who wrote it, read it and their friend was there to hear them read it. You could see how visibly touched people were - I think we often don't realize the impact we have on others and for some, their friend was their lifesaver.

The stories captured shared travel, moments of great happiness, shared experiences and in some cases, sadness. The common thread in all was not the specifics of what was shared, but what was underlying all of these great relationships - caring, love, compassion, being a confidant and lifeline, knowing each others needs and acting on it. One entrant said their secret was 'don't sweat the small stuff'' and really, when it comes to sustaining a lifelong relationship, that is likely the key.

People come in and out of our lives for many reasons. The ones that stay a lifetime are incredibly special. Finding one that will last a lifetime is truly a gift and all of the people yesterday, recognized the importance of what they had - Forever Friends.

I walked away feeling absolutely wonderful to have been part of such an event, and to being a 'witness' to such amazingly special stories. It really didn't matter who 'won' - they all won - they all had the best gift anyone could ask for - friends who will stand by you through thick and thin. The afternoon was inspiring and uplifting. Thank you V!VA Pickering! And congratulations Dianne and Lynne!

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

National Seniors Day - October 1, 2014

Today is National Seniors Day in Canada. An opportunity to recognize and celebrate the contribution of seniors across the country. Events are being held in different areas but a search of the internet, leads one to think that there are many areas where this day is going unnoticed. I suppose there are several 'national days' that the government creates and I wonder if because of that there is a bit of 'collective apathy' around acknowledging such days. Perhaps our lives are too busy to stop and 'celebrate' all days, or we are just unaware of so many. I have not noticed articles or much publicity at all about October 1 and I am 'in the senior business'. If you are not, then you may simply not absorb the information if you see it.

While I think it's great that we have a seniors day and seniors month (as an aside, since both are government created, why are they not in the same month?), unless we publicize it better and encourage all communities to do things to acknowledge seniors, there is little point to declaring a celebratory day. That being said, I wonder why we need a national day at all. Shouldn't we make it a priority to recognize people who have contributed to building the country we are blessed to live in? Shouldn't every day be Seniors' Day, Mother's Day, Father's Day and virtually any day that celebrates the importance of every person who touches our lives?