My son described an amazing moment to me recently, and introduced me to a new organization that I had not previously heard of. But I want to find out lots more about them now. I’m already impressed by what I know.
At the first night of the World Series, on the way in, before the game, everyone was handed a sign (I think it looked like a paddle) as they came in. The organization that provided it was called ‘Stand Up To Cancer”, and there was a space where you could write in the name of someone you know who has been affected by the disease. And the plan was for all the people who had someone’s name to write in, to hold up their signs at the end of the fifth inning—-both fans and players alike. Apparently, the plan went off seamlessly, concerned fans and players held up their signs, and my son sent me a photograph of him holding up his sign with his Dad’s name on it—–whom we lost to leukemia 20 months ago. The photo of my son was so touching, with thousands of other similar fans behind him, holding up their signs, the message behind it so powerful, and the moment so poignant, that I had tears rolling down my face just looking at the photo of him holding his sign. And there was his Dad’s name, proudly on the sign for all to see. He wrote his father’s full name, not just ‘Dad”.
What an extraordinary organization, and what a powerful movement for awareness, and what an incredibly moving way to either honor those we know who are struggling, or pay tribute so publicly to those we have lost to that disease. Even in the photograph, I could sense the solidarity and strength of those thousands of people holding up their signs. What a beautiful thing to do.
I’ve heard since that Stand Up To Cancer is an impressive organization and I intend to find out more about it. Awareness is so important, about all our important issues. I’ve tried to address it for years in the field of mental illness, through the foundation I established in the name of my late son Nick, and the book I wrote about him—-trying to take away the secrecy that surrounds mental illness, and the embarrassment family members sometimes feel about it. Public awareness allows people to stand up and be open about what they’re going through, which not only helps them, but others going through exactly the same thing. Isolation, silence and secrecy make everything so much worse. And I’ve done the same recently with a non-fiction book about the plight of the homeless. The book is came out on October 30th, and is called “A Gift of Hope”, and talks about my eleven years of working on the streets with the homeless.
There are so many things that we can and should stand up for, tragedies, ills in our society, challenges we all face, terrible wrongs that have been committed against others, abuses of all kinds. Cancer has touched so many lives, and long ago it was considered a dark secret that no one talked about, as though it were some kind of crime. And how wonderful of Stand Up To Cancer to allow/encourage thousands of people to stand up and hold up a sign for those they love who have been touched by the disease. Wow!!! Bravo!! I salute them, and my heart goes out to everyone who held up signs at the game that night. And once again, I was so proud of my son, holding up his sign, in tribute to his Dad. And I’m sure his Dad was proud of him too!!!!
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November 9 1992 is the day my brother committed suicide, the loss is still felt like it just happened. I made the choice to speak out that blame and shame have no place in helping others. I think the “stand up” idea may just give people the idea to have courage to start a conversation on the unspeakable that comes with all tragic losses and to have the courage to get involved and not turn away.Thank you for sharing this story it is a reminder to all to stay strong and have no fear and move ahead in honor of the ones we lost.