Kindness is a wonderful trait. It is a trait that every individual has.  How often it is displayed; however, depends on our mood, our situation, and our desire to do so. To be kind can be tough, because cynics attempt to squash the motives of others and moreover people tend to take kindness for granted. It is this lack of positive reinforcement that diminishes peoples’ desire to be kind. Therefore, I thought I would take a moment to heap praise on the Make-A-Wish Foundation and the people of San Francisco!

              If you have not heard about the recent superhero that has appeared in San Francisco, please meet Miles Scott a.k.a. “Batkid.” Miles is a five-year old boy who has fought Leukemia since his diagnosis at eighteen months old.  The fine folks at the Make a Wish Foundation bestowed upon Miles a wish… and what a wish it was! Miles’ desire was to fight crime like Batman and not only did he accomplish this feat, but the city of San Francisco delivered one of the greatest examples of kindness ever displayed. The city transformed itself into Gotham City and created numerous situations which only Batman and Batkid could undo. Racing out of the bat cave, Batkid saved a damsel in distress, dispatched the Riddler, saved the San Francisco Giants’ mascot and brought safety and peace back to the people of “Gotham.”

     At each step of the way countless people appeared to cheer on the pint-sized superhero. The attention this sensation spurred celebrities, including previous “Batmen” Christian Bale, Michael Keaton, Val Kilmer, and the forthcoming Batman, Ben Affleck, to herald the efforts of Miles. Miles’ efforts were even recognized by the White House, including a vine message from President Obama himself.

Meanwhile, back in the city by the Bay, the Mayor of San Francisco presented Miles with a key to the city and proclaimed that it was “Batkid day forever more.” For those citizens of San Francisco who were unaware that their lives were saved by our hero, the San Francisco Chronicle renamed itself the Gotham City Chronicle and published thousands of newspapers to document the diminutive caped crusader’s adventures.

San Francisco Chronicle front page!

San Francisco Chronicle front page!

This story clearly demonstrates the good-hearted nature of people and the power of positivity. All of these are drastically important for those of us fighting any illness, or even the day-to-day grind. Please take a lesson from the people of San Francisco and the Make-A-Wish Foundation to make the dreams of the people around you come true, or if not their dreams, maybe just start with their day.

Tell me you didn’t think of this song when you read that last line:

If you didn’t think of that song maybe you’ll hear this song soon and think of this one:

http://www.gigwise.com/news/86193/Batman-composer-Hans-Zimmer-pens-theme-song-for-Batkid

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Cancer Support Groups Provide Balance and Help

I’m very excited about today’s post! Recently, I was supervising this blog and was prompted to approve a post of an individual who wished to contact me. This isn’t unheard of, and often I’m excited by the opportunity to discuss the effects of cancer, cancer treatments, experiences, and most importantly how we as members of the cancer community can give back.

This post asked if I believed in allowing others the opportunity to ghost write. I think this is a great idea, because it allows more voices to be heard and an opportunity for readers to see the larger cancer picture. David Haas’ beautifully written post , which follows, thoroughly explains the availability of cancer support groups and the differences that exist between  the different styles of support. I hope that you enjoy his writing and appreciate his focus on the mental and emotional side of the broader cancer experience.

How Cancer Support Groups Help Cancer Patients

One of the fastest growing diseases affecting many people is cancer with some of examples being breast cancer, prostate cancer, colon cancer, ovarian cancer, and mesothelioma. While the impact, treatment and life expectancy of each cancer may vary; there is one thing that stays the same. There will always be people to help you with the fight. Cancer is often dreaded because of the debilitating effects it has on the physical, emotional and social life of patients, families, friends and caregivers. However, with new treatment methods and successful support groups, survivorship and recovery have improved. If you have been diagnosed with cancer, becoming a member of a cancer support group to help you on your journey is critical to your managing the disease and living a fulfilled life.

A wide range of support groups and programs that cater to the different needs and types of cancers are available. In addition, there are special cancer survivor networks that are designed for men, women and teens, transportation, lodging and education classes. Cancer support groups play an important role in helping men and women understand and cope with this disease. These include people who have been diagnosed with cancer, those undergoing treatment, those who are in remission as well as survivors.

Cancer support groups may help cancer patients experience a better quality of life, which includes improved self-worth and interpersonal relationships with family and friends. People who are in support programs are likely to be less anxious and to feel hopeless. In addition, support networks can educate you on cancer treatments, challenges, recovery and coping methods as you learn from their experiences.

Regardless of your situation you should be able to find a cancer support group to help meet your needs. If you prefer the face-to-face interaction, you may join a group where members meet in person. However, for those who desire less personal contact and who may have difficulties traveling to meetings, there are online as well as telephone support groups where you can share you story and your feelings. You may also find support groups that are organized at the workplace, in the community and at medical facilities.

With the many cancer support networks that exist, it is important for you to find the one that best fits your needs. Here are some great online resources, which can help you find cancer support networks and groups:

American Association for Cancer Research – Article on how to choose a support group

Inspire

By: David Haas

I believe that Haas’ writing brings to life an important side of cancer treatment, one that is often misunderstood, and forgotten, that being the mental and emotional toll that cancer can take.  I believe that, often, we become obsessed with the medical aspect of treatment, that we  neglect the  lingering effects of this disease, and its impact upon the patient, the caregivers, and family/friends. Cancer takes its toll, and has been compared to war, and in many ways it is.  This is evident in the National Cancer Institute’s (NCI) article on the effects of cancer, where they draw a comparison between war-time Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and the development of PTSD following cancer treatments. The NCI’s recognition of cancer related PTSD further illustrates the importance that Haas discusses. Like Haas, I highly encourage cancer patients and their support structures to look into these forms of care, because the lasting effects on the patient and those that surround them will far exceed the diagnosis and the disease.

To supplement Haas’ links for cancer patients, I have included a link which provides support groups  for caregivers and families: Caregiver and Family Support Groups

I would like to thank David Haas for his time, and efforts and I hope that this article and the links provided will aid others in finding the help that they need.

Furthermore, if you enjoyed this article or wish to add a post, as well, feel free to contact me and we will hopefully work together to bring this terrible disease to an end.

Now, I know exactly what your thinking…. and No, this isn’t that kind of post… but if you were thinking like I was thinking then you automatically started thinking about this:

Ahhh, yes… old school Double Mint gum commercials. If you thought that commercial was ridiculous you should go to Youtube and check out the rest of them, because they are hysterical. My favorite at the moment is this one:

Now, I didn’t send you here just to look at Doublemint gum commercials. It just happens to be one the big benefits of coming to by blog of randomness from time to time. The purpose of today’s post is to ask you donate to the LiveSTRONG foundation.  This is where you immediately start thinking of the millions of other things that you would rather be doing right now or that you cannot be bothered by this whole idea, or that you’ll get around to it later. Let me outline a few reasons why I think this is a worthwhile donation and overall how it relates to the Doublemint commercials. 

Why you should donate:

1st: The donation to the Livestrong Charity is a donation to aid the 28 million people currently fighting the disease. 

2nd: It is a donation to try to end the number 1 global killer and the number 2 killer in the United States:

3rd: In terms of money raised, The Lance Armstrong Foundation provides more money to actual cancer programming on a percentage basis than is used for any other “expense.” The foundation raised 32 million dollars in 2008 and its administrative costs were just over 1 million dollars. To put this into perspective the Livestrong Foundation provides more money on a percentage basis to cancer research then  the American Cancer Society:

This is where you say, “Prove it!” and I say, “Bring it on!”  Here’s the proof. An independent, non-profit organization named Charity Navigator, which also works like the Better Business Bureau and American Institute of Philanthropy (which also have ratings and guides that you may use to find out how charities use the money you donated) have rated the Livestrong Foundation as a higher donor to programs as compared to the American Cancer Society. 

Check it for yourself: Charity Navigator

4th: Most importantly for this post and the reason for the title is that whatever money is donated by the Game on, cancer team will be doubled through the kind workings of Pfizer, INC.  That means if you donate 5 dollars it will actually be 10 dollars. And because of number 3 more of that money will go to cancer programming!

5th: Remember your donations are tax-deductible! Our government and the fine folks at Internal Revenue Service actually admire the fact that you provide money to charities and cut you some slack on your tax returns!

6th: Are you aware that we are slowly moving to a point where nearly 50% of the population will have cancer in their lifetime. Wouldn’t it be better to start working on a cure now, rather than to wait for you to develop the disease and then think about how you should have done so from the start?

Why you think you shouldn’t donate:

1st: I don’t have enough time: Honestly – It takes 5 minutes, actually probably less Donation Page .  Look I’ve even given you a link to a donation page!

2nd: I’ve already donated: Listen so have I… and donating money that can be doubled is like donating 3 times. If you’re like me, I can’t turn down girl scouts and their cookies or the Salvation army when they are outside the mall… why turn down cancer patients?

3rd: With all of the turmoil around Lance Armstrong, I feel that I’m donating my money to a “villain” or a potential villain.  Trust me: There are few people more than I who will be any less devastated by a confirmation against Lance Armstrong, but I’ve been thinking about this and the more I think about it the more I can look past the cycling career and focus on the fact that this man and his recovery from cancer is still an incredible thing and the message that he puts out is positive about ending a disease that will ravage many of us in the years to come. Here’s my history lesson for the day: How many of us go to Rockefeller Center, go to libraries, colleges, and other educational facilities created by Andrew Carnegie.   How many of you use Windows – remember the story is that Bill Gates sacrificed his partner to take it over himself and now he is promoting the return of half of his fortune to charity. He’s also convincing other billionaires to do the same! The funds for those good endeavours came from the exploitation of millions of workers at the profit of those business tycoons, but yet we do not dare tear those structures down, because now they are viewed as positives in our community. I’m not promoting cheating (if in fact Lance is guilty) but I am promoting the message – The idea to overcome a challenge that seems insurmountable, the idea of promoting positive symbolism to take down cancer, the image of strength in knowledge and power of knowledge to take down a disease that threatens us all. I am for that.

Real Men Wear Spandex

July 23, 2010

I’ve done it! Purchased a road bike and have completed my first solo and small group ride. The picture above is moments after my first legitimate ride of any distance (10 miles.) You can clearly see how pleased I am to have done it, there even appears to be a little cockiness in the completion of that ride. If there is? It’s completely momentary, because entering into the world of cycling has been a very interesting road. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve followed cycling. I understand the competitive side of the sport, but actually getting involved in the machinery of it… that’s a completely different story. All of the decisions that need to be made: First: Do you want a road bike, a hybrid, or a mountainbike? Do you want clipped in shoes, (road shoes, mountainbike shoes)? What type of pedals? What type of helmet? So many questions… to the point I felt like I was Jim Carrey’s portrayal of the Riddler in Batman Forever… think back to Edward Nigma repeating to himself “Too many questions… Too many questions.” It can be very overwhelming, but thanks to some great advise and research I settled on a Trek 2.1 bicycle.

This bike so far rides like a dream.  And so far in my first two days of riding I’ve really enjoyed the process. Not necessarily the falling and gaining your balance as you step out of or attempt to step of your clips. Yes, I admit it I have taken the plunge fully attached to my bike on two separate occasions. I think that is probably the most interesting component to get used to, well that and the spandex.

Spandex is a very interesting material and I understand the importance in cycling… something that is aerodynamic, breathable, and padded for all the right spots, but for me who was brought up in a very modest fashion, it’s interesting to wear clothes that, “show-off” your body. I will manage and even at some point get used to it. I’m not saying that I will be wandering around my home on casual days in spandex, but that I think that I will be able to wander around others in spandex soon enough. That comfortablity  certifies for me that men who can feel comfortable in spandex truly are in a class all of their own. It takes a confidence and lack of concern of other’s thoughts, impressions, and humor. 

I think for me I will focus primarily on the fact that cycling and owning my bike will allow me to participate in both the running portion of the Livestrong Challenge and the cycling portion of the Livestrong Challenge, to be held on August 21st and August 22nd respectively at Montgomery County Community College in Blue Bell, PA.  With that in mind, I can focus on what the importance is… which is raising awareness for cancer research and cancer prevention.

Update on the Livestrong Challenge: At this point: the team has raised 1,285.00, which will hopefully be doubled here in the future and we have a few other surprises coming up in hopes of raising some money.  We are as of this moment at 29 days away from the challenge and there is still time to get involved! Looking forward to seeing you there!

Coach John Wooden

Coach John Wooden

” The Wizard of Westwood” also known as Coach John Wooden passed away last night at the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center in Los Angeles of natural causes. This legendary individual is best known for his uncanny winning percentage in college basketball, winning over 80% of the games he coached.  His UCLA teams won ten national championships in twelve years, the last one occurring in 1975. As a coach, he is an inspiration, a true leader and a master tactician.

However great John Wooden’s coaching record is and how marvelous his accomplishments are, what I find captivating about this man is his personality and the way he led his life.  This is an individual who truly believed in making men.  This is clearly evident in his pyramid to leadership:

 

 The components that make up this pyramid are life lessons that forge youth into upstanding members of society with a sense of character unmatched among modern society.  It is this method and style of teaching that truly is the mark of John Wooden’s life, because he took his job as coach and morphed into its true intention of mentor, guide, and educator.  His influence is not easily forgotten and will truly live as will his love of the game, of life and probably most importanly to him, his wife, Nellie Riley. 

To read more of his life here are some great articles: 

Los Angeles Times

 CNN

Honoring Cancer Combatants

January 17, 2010

Tonight, the Hollywood Foreign Press honored a recent cancer combatant when they awarded the Golden Globe for Best Actor in a Television Drama to Michael C. Hall.  Michael C. Hall is the lead actor in Showtime’s hit drama, Dexter.

Dexter is a series that depicts the life of a seriel killer, portrayed by Hall, who uses his particular homicidal talents to execute other criminals.  This is a fascinating premise, as the writers and actors of this show ask society to root on a sociopath for the betterment of society.  This creates a nice moral grey area.

What isn’t a moral grey area is the celebration of this particular actor’s professional skills and his battle with Hodkins Lymphoma, a cancer of the lymphatic system, which is part of the body’s immune system.  This disease is considered highly treatable with potential for full recovery. Michael C. Hall’s particular battle and treatment are moving ahead and he is reported as being in remission. 

Michael C. Hall enters an arena with other major cancer combatants who have battled cancer and gone on to do amazing things either in their field or in another field following their diagnosis and battle with cancer.  Other great individuals are: Lance Armstrong (7 time Tour de France winner, and co-founder of the Lance Armstrong Foundation), Jon Lester (Red Sox pitcher – pitched a no-hitter), Mark Herzlich (Boston College player), Sean Swarner (climbed Mount Everest) and the list continues. 

These are just some of the great things that these people have accomplished, but what I like to think about is the possibilities that people who are not athletes, or celebrities might accomplish as they surpass their cancer diagnosis, or the cancer diagnoses of loved ones. I’m looking forward to the possibilities and hopefully the stories that those people put forth.  Are there any stories that you can think of that fit this particular bill?

Ideas Abound

January 11, 2010

I’ve been working feverishly on a plan to encourage school spirit within the school that I teach. This all came at the prompting to check out a couple of youtube videos that have recently been made famous around the country. They were created by rival high schools in Washington state. That rivalry is between Shorecrest High School and Shorewood High School in Shoreline, Washington.

What these schools have accomplished is a lip dub video that involves a good portion of their school, some careful planning and some highly involved/motivated students, and faculty.

What is a lip dub? A lip dub is a single take video where the sound has been overdubbed and the students are lip synching.

Over the past week, I have been ridiculously excited about attempting this project. The work I have been doing has been an obsession in plotting, organizing, stirring up emotions, and finding individuals who are willing to aid in my plot. It sounds now that things are working in my favor, but we will see as the next few weeks progress. So that you may see what these lip dubs look like. I have humbly submitted for your approval the following videos (Twilight Zone reference!)

The above was the first lip dub created by Shorecrest High School. I like the transitions in this video.

This was the second video created by Shorewood High School. Notice that they did the whole thing backwards!!! How awesome is that!?

So there it is my thought? I won’t tell you how I think we can improve on these, but the ideas are bouncing around my head and I’m excited to try it. Now I just need permission from my principal!