When Lynn Spitler, M.D. reached out to me about joining the Melanoma Research Foundation Wings of Hope Melanoma Gala San Francisco Host Committee, a multitude of thoughts and feelings rushed through my head, with the first being gratitude. I was deeply moved that Lynn, a pioneer in the field of melanoma research, and The Humanitarian Award recipient of this event, had asked for my help in this very important benefit.
Instead of trying to form cohesive paragraphs representing my brain activity about this, I am simply (Ha!) going to free-flow here, attempting to depict the connect-the-dots process that took place:
Here we go…..
“Hmmm. This sounds incredible, but I don’t live in San Francisco. Does Lynn think I live there? She probably does, because my dad and step mom do, and that’s how Lynn and I are connected. I would love to do this….but how can I be effective from across the country? Let me look at the details. And the dates. Oh, this would be so magical if my dad and step mom could join me there. OH! I’m going to see if my mom, who lives in Oregon can come down for this. Ok, I’m going to craft an email to my parents, about the event, with my ideas about how tremendous it would be to ALL come together for such an inspiring cause. Email sent. I’m now looking at Orbitz for flights. Responses from my email come back. All parents on board! Flights booked. I say yes to Lynn. Plans are in motion!”
This whirlwind of ideas, emails, etc. was fast moving…a burst of lots of little things falling into place…perfectly. It felt like my favorite kind of summer thunderstorm- comes out of no where, is very productive in a short period of time, resolves with a flawless, expansive rainbow. Yep. That’s how it felt. Just like that.
And with that, came exciting conference calls with the host committee members, reaching out to lots of companies and people who have some tie to the melanoma world, asking for donations of all kinds, learning a lot about the constructing of a successful event such as this, and more. It really does take a prodigious community coming together to create such a cohesive affair.
Let’s just say, this event was transformative for me. On many different levels. To work on something like this, was exhilarating. To have my parents involved, was enchanting. To meet people I “have known” (virtually) for years through the melanoma community, was remarkable. To meet new people, people who have profound stories, who exude so much grace, and with whom I share a bond (this disease of melanoma), was awe-inspiring. It was a gala. But really, it was so much more…
I recently saw a post on one of the melanoma group pages on Facebook, where a member wrote about (paraphrasing now). “people close to them not acknowledging the severity of this disease”…to which I commented, “Denial. A form of “self-protection”…or an attempt at it.” This gala, this trip, was somewhat of an unveiling of any denial, that my parents both expressed to me they have, when it comes to me and melanoma. The gala stripped that…removed it. When you come to an event such as this, so captivating and powerful, there is no room for denial. It becomes a place for acknowledging reality, not dodging it. Honoring the works and stories of real people. Forming bonds. Showing love. Talking real. Growing. Knowing that there is no time like the present to make a difference and partake in wondrous moments such as these.
Just as Paulo Coelho said, “You have to take risks. We will only understand the miracle of life fully when we allow the unexpected to happen.”
Thank you Mom, Dad, and Roberta for all of your support, love and wisdom!