In 2010, we were working with the US Senate to establish November as the first national Stomach Cancer Awareness Month. We found out the Resolution had passed only weeks before the start of November, and we did the best we could to raise awareness on whatever scale we could. In 2011, it grew, and more people participated by hosting local events that raised awareness and funds…..Jeans Days, Bowl-a-thons, Memorial Brunches, Raffles…. even a float in a parade!
Fast forward one year and here we are, preparing for our Walk in just two days! And the most amazing part of the Walk is YOU! Although as an organization we were excited about the concept of the November 3rd Walk, we had no idea what to expect. Would ten people participate? Would it be the Board Members and their families walking around their neighborhoods? What would the Walk look like?
And here it is, taking place around the globe…Throughout the US… In the UK…. In Australia… In Canada… In New Zealand… In Italy…. In Japan… In Turkey… In Spain…
Although we are extremely grateful that the Walk is raising funds ~ funds that we know will make a difference in stomach cancer research ~ and awareness, we are equally excited that the event has provided an opportunity for people to connect with others who understand, who have been affected by stomach cancer, who know one another’s story….
I am thinking of a picture of Lorraine Ennis and Nikki Phillips I saw posted on Facebook just last night, and Lorraine’s comment below the picture that read, “In Ottawa with my new friend Nikki . As much as this is a big world, it is also so very small!”
I am thinking of the people who have, over the past two months, posted items such as “Is there a walk in ________? I want to connect with someone in my area to walk for my mom…. my grandfather…..my son…..my sister….”
And the most powerful aspect of it as that people HAVE connected on so many levels…. People know they are not alone and that others truly understand.
So, as we kick off Stomach Cancer Awareness Month, it is certainly bittersweet….. we are part of this community because this disease has wreaked havoc in our lives, yet we have found some of the most inspiring people in the world here in our community…..
We have much more to do to raise awareness and funds and we will… we have to. And it is thanks to YOU that we are spreading the word and will continue to do so.
Looking forward to our best Stomach Cancer Awareness Month yet!