Community is a remarkable thing. It’s defined as a group of people who live in the same area or with a common background or shared interests. But there’s a type of community that goes deeper than shared interests or location. It’s the collective action that emerges in difficult situations: large scale catastrophes like 9/11 or Hurricane Katrina or local tragedies like a young woman fighting to stay alive.
We were designed with the purpose to love our neighbors as ourselves and there’s something in our hearts that compels us to act on the behalf of others. I see it every day on my Facebook and Twitter feeds – people speaking out for the vulnerable, praising others for their good deeds and encouraging both friends and strangers to keep reaching for their dreams. Some people devote their life’s work to these great acts of community. Others come forward in the most critical hour of need. And still others contribute life-giving service in small trickles throughout their lives.
Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good. Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other. Romans 12:9-10
We have been blessed with a very special community through this season. The oncology team at Newton Wellesley Hospital provided a level of care that greatly exceeded our expectations. Our employers generously supported us and the many hours and days we had to take off from our jobs. A church in Maine prayed over a prayer cloth for Tyler and mailed it to us in Boston so that Tyler could receive anointing from a distance.
Many of you reading this post have also played a vital part in our story. You prayed with us, cooked for us, sent us care packages, visited us, made us laugh, washed our dishes and even installed an air conditioner (thanks Matt!). You, as our community, walked each step of this journey with us. For this, and for all the ways you continue to participate in our story, we are eternally grateful.
We want to pay this gift of community forward. As I mentioned in my last post, we are running the Maine Half Marathon on September 30th. Back in April, just before Tyler started chemotherapy, we had the privilege of watching our friend Mike run the Boston Marathon to raise support for a great organization called Cradles to Crayons. While we were watching the race, we saw a man run by with a shirt that read:
“Stage Three Brain Cancer. And Never Giving Up.”
My eyes well with tears every time I think back to this moment. I’ll never forget the look on Tyler’s face. I could just see the encouragement rising within him. Seeing that, in the midst of a huge crowd of people all cheering in support for others, many whom were running for incredible non-profits… it changed us.
I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve always been a little hesitant about races and “a-thon’s” being an effective way to raise money and make a difference. And while I do still wish that people would put their hands to work in addition to their feet and wallets, I now understand the power of these events.
For us, a half-marathon is a BIG stretch. Logic and research point to the likelihood that we will not be able to run even half the race. (Okay, maybe we should have picked a 10K first…) Much like marriage, race training is hard work! I’ve already had an injury and we’ve had a few “fight runs” as I like to call them. But we will finish the race on September 30th, even if we are the last ones limping across that finish line, because we believe in the power of working together for good, no matter how many obstacles come before us.
To honor the community who has coached us along the way of our own cancer journey, we will be fundraising for the Cancer Community Center in Maine for the duration of our training for the half-marathon. The Cancer Community Center is a non-profit organization located in South Portland, Maine. The CCC offers a wide array of resources and services to cancer patients and their families, free of charge. Tyler and I understand that cancer is a complex condition that presents a unique set of challenges for each patient. No one’s experience is the same and we are impressed with the comprehensive and diverse support that CCC provides to the community. Whether a patient is looking for a support group, an exercise class tailored to a cancer patient’s needs or more information on a specific condition, CCC has it all. For free!
Giving back is important to us and we feel that by supporting the Cancer Community Center, not only will we be contributing financially to an important organization, we will be paying it forward to the many patients and families who will walk their own cancer journey. A strong, supportive community is just as important in fighting cancer as doctors, nutrition, and treatment therapies. We invite you to join us in bringing awareness and support to this organization that serves a critical need for cancer patients in Maine.
If you would like to participate in our fundraising efforts, please visit our page at the CCC’s StayClassy fundraising site: http://www.stayclassy.org/fundraise?fcid=207888
Tyler and I would like to find other ways of serving the cancer community and will post our findings on this blog. If you have experience with this, we would love to share your story of service.
Thank you for participating in our story. Your comments encourage us and your prayers lift us up. We thank God for our wonderful community and pray for a ripple effect in each of your unique networks.