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Stomp out cancer

Elizabeth Chicoine

Newsweek featured John Lennon this past fall. It was a 25-years-ago, after-death story examining his impact on pop culture. A photo of him in 1971 sitting at a white piano in Ascot, England, lured me into reading the piece. It spoke of his signature song, Imagine, referring to it as an anthem.”An anthem for what?” I wondered. Hard to pull this song into one universal message. I relate to the Lennon verse, “Imagine all the people, living for today.”Songwriter and singer Dave Matthews sums up Lennon’s message, “Imagine if everything we take for granted as unchangeable was not there, imagine what the world would be like.”This article on Lennon has been swirling around in my mind since I read it months ago. Finally, I have found a place here at home to make the message of Lennon’s song, “Imagine,” relevant. People in the Vail Valley are living for today. Eagle County is home to community-minded people who have a vision to build a home for people who deeply understand the unpredictability of life. Eagle County is host to The Shaw Regional Cancer Center, including the Cancer Caring House.Groundbreaking for the Cancer Caring house is scheduled for March 8. No longer will the people of our mountain region have to imagine being able to seek treatment close to home without wondering, “Where will I live during treatment?”Thanks to generous local donors and businesses, this is no longer a concern. The people of the Vail Valley don’t take for granted a day, a moment, nor a breath of beauty. We give back to the winds that give us fortune and dare to imagine great ways to pay tribute. If presented with a change in the life that you once took for granted, would you depend on someone else’s good will? Most of us hope not, dream not, but deep in our conscience, rely upon human kind’s good will.Because of a spirited friend and mother of multiples who shames us into not saying, “can’t make it, the kids need me,” I attended a women’s info meeting regarding the Cancer Caring House in Edwards. If she calls, I say sure. If she can do it, so can I. That is the contagious spirit we all need in order to beat cancer. We can be a group of volunteers capable of stomping out this disease. Wellness is mind, body, soul, and the best medicine can offer, isn’t it?As the story goes, I attended this open night invitation of “Bring a friend, two, or three. No RSVP necessary.”Here are some facts that I learned from the literature that evening:-Cancer is now the leading cause of death in the U.S. for people under the age of 85.-The estimated number of new cancer cases in Colorado this past year – excluding basal and squamous cell cancers – was 15,200. -At some time, everyone in our mountain community will be touched by cancer.-Most cancer therapies require multiple, consecutive days of treatment. Currently patients from our six-county region must travel to Denver or Grand Junction if they wish to stay in a Cancer Caring House.I have suffered my own private victories and losses of family and friends in this battle with cancer. Yes, I know that I have been touched. But I have shamefully not been an opponent of this disease until the other night. From this casual, non-pressured, non-committal evening of women, I joined a silent, humble army.The Caring House at the Shaw Regional Cancer Center needs volunteers of all ages to jump into the campaign. I suggest that a good way to put your toe into the water is to show up for the dedication. A celebration will begin at 4:30 p.m., March 8, at the Cancer Center. The digging begins on this day.I may be in my sweats, business suit, or ski-pants, with child-in-hand, but you can bet, if all goes as planned or unplanned, I’ll be there, quietly and anonymously, doing something to say I do not take today for granted. To end this impossible-to-define-in-words column about cancer, I leave it to Lennon’s song once again. He wrote about a brotherhood of man. The melody goes on, “You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one.”Dare to be the dreamer. Volunteer your time, talent, heart, anything you can tangibly give to the Cancer Caring House. Do like my friend did. Host an evening for the Caring House and open your door to friends who may be able to help … even if they do not themselves yet know it. When you drive along the I-70 Corridor and look above to the Edwards exchange, please tell anyone and everyone who is in your car about that building to the north: The Shaw Regional Cancer Center. If only you do that, you have taken a step on the road to the cure. You’ve shown that you don’t take for granted all that is being done to stomp out cancer. Elizabeth H. Chicoine of Eagle writes a weekly column for the Daily. She can be reached at echicoine@centurytel.net Vail Daily


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