Electric Review

Culture & Criticism From the Far Distant Realms

On the Other Side of the Diamond: San Francisco Giants Strike Out Against Cancer

They are the words that conjure a universal fear: you have cancer.

Every year, tens of thousands of people across the globe hear these words from their doctors and their lives are forever changed. After a cancer diagnosis, in the quick blink of an eye, life becomes a minefield of curves and obstacles. Just like that: You’re left to balance a flood of medical appointments and treatment regimens – every action fraught with ideas of mortality and indecision as patients pray to become “survivors” rather than “statistics.”

And no matter what you think you know about cancer, you don’t a thing – not unless you’ve actually faced the fear and the specter of your own mortality. Quite simply, this is one path you have to go down before you can know.

How can I say that? How do I know that? Seven short months ago, a doctor looked me in the eye and told me that I had a tumor “of unknown origins” was growing on the rear wall of my chest.

That cancer news took my breath away. At 46 years old, I felt strong and vital. Even though I’d intimately watched the disease afflict others, I never thought it could touch me. I was invincible. Like all those voices seem to say, cancer is always something that happens to them – not me.

And like everybody else, I was left with the same rush of questions – “where do I go and what’s going to happen to me?” “Should I get a second opinion?” “How do I tell my family?” “Am I going to die?”

Lots of questions, yes, but so very hard hard to know where to go find real answers. All I could do was read and read some more about chest tumors. All I could do was ask the parade of doctors I encountered a thousand and one questions. Simply, all anyone can do – is buckle up for a long ride down an unknown road.

My personal journey ended better than most – after 100 days of biopsies, scans and office consultations, I finally had a successful surgery (with a tumor the size of an adult man’s fist extracted from my anterior chest wall). Although no overt malignancy was detected, I will still require scans for at least the next three years – a fact that tells me that the word “cancer” will be in my daily lexicon for the rest of my life.

But even though the worst of it seems to be over for me, the gravity of the experience has not been forgotten. More than anything, I can’t help but be consumed with the idea of information, driven to lead newly-diagnosed cancer patients toward a better understanding of what’s happening to them.

And that’s why I’m writing this column about what the San Francisco Giants are doing on July 18 in collaboration with Genentech.

The bio-tech engineering firm headquartered in South San Francisco and the Giants are teaming up for their seventh straight “Strike Out Cancer Day” – an event which transcends the baseball diamond and delves to the depths of real life.

In sum, “Strike Out Cancer Day” gives cancer patients and their families a platform on which to stand in order to confront this invisible demon – the idea behind the day to teach people that no one can beat cancer alone. Instead, it takes that venerable “team approach.”

And even though that may sound like a stupid cliché now, those words become a holy proverb once you’re the one facing the wall. Basically, beating cancer takes strength. And the strength to endure is derived from being able to get proper support and concrete information, it’s derived from being able to arrive at treatment decisions through thoughtful knowledge.

For the better part of the last decade, “Strike Out Cancer Day” at AT&T Park has tried to teach patients and their families where to look for information while alleviating some of the isolation that accompanies a cancer diagnosis.

Out at the park, amid 40,000 fans screaming for baseball, sick people see that they are not alone. Instead, they are surrounded by similar people facing similar challenges (while the Giants work with Genetech to bring awareness and dollars to cancer research and to patients overwhelmed by the cruel randomness of disease).

Cancer is a claw and it rips people from their lives without warning. It causes untold suffering and self-doubt and instills a deep sense of fear within the delicate human psyche – it’s a feeling unlike anything else a person will ever have to face.

And therein lies the rub: Treatment for this particular disease has to be about more than medicine, body scans and stark hospital corridors. Instead, it also must encompass support systems and ways to tell the afflicted that they are not alone – that somebody out there somewhere actually gives a damn.

More than anything else, the Giants’ “Strike Out Cancer Day” is meant to circulate this message while enlightening baseball fans across the country. The ultimate lesson? – that no one is immune to this disease and its far-reaching tentacles.

Sooner or later, you will likely be touched.

And just where will you go for answers if the worst happens?

The Giants and Genetech are working now so you and me and everyone else has a place to turn in that dark and desperate hour of need.

Strike Out Cancer Day 2010

When: July 18, 2010 at AT&T Park. Giants Vs. New York Mets. Pre-game “Strike Out Cancer” events begin at 12:30 with game-time at 1:05.

The Program: The home-plate ceremony will feature various taped vignettes as cancer survivors step forward to tell their stories – sacrificing privacy and safe-silence in the name of public awareness.

For more information go to strikeoutcancer.com or thewellnesscommunity.org.

by John Aiello

Advertisements

Talk to Rat:

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Information

This entry was posted on April 1, 2013 by in 2013, April 2013, Rat's Notebook and tagged , , .
In accordance with FTC Guidelines on blogging and product reviews, The Electric Review discloses that the books, records, DVDS and other products reviewed are submitted to us by publishers, record labels, publicity firms, artists, manufacturers and creators free of charge. The Electric Review further states that these entities and individuals submit materials to us of their own volition and understand that the submission of material is for discretionary consideration by the Editor and is not to be construed as to be in ‘exchange’ for a review.
The Electric Review does not serve as a ‘for-hire’ advertising vehicle and the submission of material for review creates no agreement either express or implicit requiring us to provide comment on a book, record, film, product or event. In sum, The Electric Review accepts no payment for the publication of a review. Instead, commentary is published as a free public service with reviews based solely on merit and the lasting classroom or cultural value of a given work: this compendium of essays meant to serve as an electronic library and on-going teaching resource surveying the 21st-century landscape.
Website copyright: John Aiello & The Electric Review. All rights reserved.
Violations of this notice are subject to sanction under United States Code: Title 17.
Reproduction of material from any Electric Review pages without the written permission of John Aiello or the named author is strictly prohibited.
%d bloggers like this: