If you live for any period of time, you are going to know someone who has had, currently has, or will have cancer. There is a great possibility that you or I may one day be diagnosed with cancer. It is so prevalent, so life-changing, for the cancer victim as well as their family members and friends.
In August 2008, many of my high school classmates gathered in our small hometown. They gathered, not for a class reunion. They gathered because one of our classmates had lost the battle with cancer that she had so valiantly fought. This classmate, Diane Draine Jackson, had been the one to organize the class reunions for our tenth and twentieth years. She did what she could to bring us all together.
When Diane died, some of the classmates thought sadly, what’s the use of getting together? She’s not here anymore. Yet they realized Diane would have wanted the reunions to continue.
This year, the 30th reunion of the 1980 graduating class in Orrville, Alabama became a reality. In many ways, our reunion in early September commemorated Diane. Classmates and their family members and friends participated in a one mile walk. The money raised for the walk, plus other donations by classmates, were contributed to fund the Breast Cancer Awareness Center in nearby Montgomery.
Cancer is no stranger to my family. My father fought for 10 years before it claimed his life. My grandmother, his mother, with her stubborn self, refused to go to the hospital until we begged her to. The cancer had done most of its damage to her body by the time she was admitted. She only lived nine days longer.
Officials in the health field and others concerned about the well-being of patients and loved ones offer sound advice on how to strive to have a cancer-free life. The problem is, you can do everything you’re supposed to do and still, for no fault of your own, be a victim.
One thing we know is that Diane is no longer a victim; she’s no longer hurting. We who are left are glad to have known her, and that we could contribute to Breast Cancer Awareness in her honor. And it wasn’t even October at the time.