This Is Why - Mike Walsh
I haven’t always hated cancer. As a kid, no one told me about the disease. It seemed like a secret. “Your grandmother is in the hospital again.” She was a two-time cancer survivor. “We need to visit your grandfather; he’s home this weekend.” He would lose his second battle with colorectal cancer. My parents never sat me down to explain how cancer can ravage a body, a life, a family. But eventually I realized what was going on. As I grew up, I eventually asked why my grandparents died. “Cancer” was the one word answer.
Cancer was for the elderly and the unfortunate in my mind, but shortly after losing a college friend in his early twenties to a brain tumor, my perspective changed drastically. I remember walking into my father’s office and trying to tell him that a friend, younger than me, had just passed away. I couldn’t get the words past the lump in my throat with tears swelling until they ran down my face. Disillusioned and full of hate, I decided I should do more with my life than ruminate on life’s unfairness.
A charity bike ride in Philadelphia seemed like a simple first step. New to competitive cycling, I completed the challenging 70 mile ride physically drained, yet equally inspired. My fellow weekend warriors shared a common voice and disdain for this disruptive disease. I met scores of people who were creating meaningful impacts through their time, spirit and generosity. That event, the Philadelphia Livestrong Challenge, raised more than $1 million for cancer survivorship programs and sparked an incessant fire within me. It gave my emotion a direction.
“Cancer” is not only a word or a disease, but a story that affects everyone at some point. It spans age, race, class and gender. Cancer literally touches everyone. It’s the reason that hating cancer has become a universal truth for us all. Team I Hate Cancer, our charity born from our shared cancer experiences has now raised more than $400,000 since 2006 and we continue to pursue our mission of providing immediate support for those dealing with a cancer diagnosis. Hatred is a powerful emotion.
Originally motivated by hate, we’re now pushed forward by hope. Along our journey, we’ve met an army of like-minded individuals bent on moving mountains with us; our own cancer-hating wrecking crew that is dedicated to raising funds and awareness for cancer causes. We’ve made life-long friends who come from all walks of life, but who immediately and perpetually feel like family. We have been inspired to share our stories and become part of a vocal community. We all hate cancer and it’s not a secret anymore.