A favorite quote of mine reads: “One voice can make a difference. That voice can be yours.” For years I have searched in vain to credit the author of this meaningful phrase that speaks to my heart and has guided me on my colon cancer advocacy journey of nearly 30 years. You see, sometimes the path of advocating for increased colon cancer education and awareness for a disease that has claimed the lives of your loved ones can be extremely rewarding, and – being totally transparent – sometimes it can be extremely heartbreaking.
I’ve learned and am still learning many lessons on advocating for those affected by this deadly disease. One of the lessons I’ve learned is that we all have the opportunity to make a difference. To me, advocacy is simply about the desire to help others. It is about listening to the voice of someone in need, and working tirelessly to help meet this need. It is creating change. It is compassion. It is grace. One voice – one person at a time.
Over the years, I’ve had the pleasure of meeting hundreds of colon cancer patients and their families – sincere, loving and gracious individuals living through pain and heartbreak. I keep a remembrance journal for all those who have crossed my path due to this disease – photos, stories we shared about family, children and beloved pets, their struggles, and their hopes for the future. When I thumb through the pages of my journal I smile and know their voice is still with me – still guiding me to move forward. Their voice and their hopes resonate with me every day.
As March - Colon Cancer Awareness Month - approaches, I remember those we have lost to this disease. I remember those individuals still in treatment, struggling, and searching for research advances. A time of reflection. A time to honor friends and loved ones.
Colon Cancer Awareness Month offers the opportunity for all of us to honor friends and loved ones as we advocate for increased education, prevention programs, research, and supportive care for patients. Meaningful advocacy doesn’t need to be costly, lavish, or even on a large scale to be effective. On the contrary, I’ve learned that the most meaningful advocacy begins with building relationships one person at a time. No effort is too small. One life saved or enriched is certainly not a small effort – it is effective advocacy.
If all of us seize this opportunity to help one person at a time and continue to pay it forward, can you imagine the difference we will make?
One voice can make a difference. That voice can be yours.