There are 3 words that can change your life forever. When it's "I love you", those words and what they represent get you through most of the ups and downs of life. I was lucky enough to hear those words in 1970 from a man I would later marry. And we had a good life raising 2 sons, making memories through the good times and the difficult ones. But grateful we had each other through it all.
In 2003 three other words came in to our lives. "You have cancer". The love, the support, the sons, family and friends, they all got us through the days ahead. But 4 months later my beautiful 53 year old husband passed away. Not before telling us that whatever happens to him we should know that he led a blessed life. He was so courageous and he gave us his strength so that we could go on.
Someone once told us that when tragedy happens you can choose ‘bitter or better’. For my sons and I there was never a question because we knew we had to be part of the fight. And for so many that helped us through this journey, friends and strangers alike, we had to help that next person. Hope was the word we lived with throughout the diagnosis and we had to pass that on.
Three months after Michael died we started an effort to get a Conquer Cancer license plate on the road. On Father’s Day weekend in 2006 the first Conquer Cancer plates hit the streets of Massachusetts. And we are now 6000 strong!
In 2010 with the blessing of the Mayor of Boston we built a Cancer Garden of Hope on Boston City Hall Plaza. Over 1000 personalized bricks/plaques adorn the walls and it has truly become an inspirational oasis in the city. A place to celebrate a life, remember a loved one, give thanks and most importantly share HOPE.
All money raised from both these efforts helps fund organizations dealing with all cancers, from research, free support groups, survivor conferences, patient housing, teaching compassionate care, advocacy and more.
What we have learned in these past 10 years is that it all matters. Each one of us truly can make a difference in this world. The fight against cancer needs us all so that one day we will have a license plate that reads CONQUERED CANCER!