Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Someone You Know…

If it hasn’t done so already, breast cancer will touch you or someone you know. This was the case in my own life when, seven years ago, my 30-year old wife and I sat in a dimly-lit radiologist’s office with x-ray films illuminated in front of us when we heard those dreaded words. “This is bad, this is really bad.”

Little did we know it, but that moment in time would be the beginning of a journey. A journey that, if someone had described in words, we wouldn’t have believed it.

When my wife was diagnosed, we had only been married five years. We had a two year old son (The Boy you’ve read about) and a six month old daughter (the fish kisser). We were living the perfect life – a wonderful marriage, two incredible babies, a little suburban home - the life fairy tales are written about.

When the oncologist confirmed the diagnosis we both felt like we had been sucker-punched in the gut. That day started a new chapter in our lives, one filled with the expected fears, sorrow, and pain that accompanies such a devastating illness.

I often say that our “faith and family” are what helped us get through those dark days. After dealing with the shock and immediacy of situation, my wife and I made a distinct decision one day. And that decision was that we were going to live with cancer, despite how things may ultimately end up. We had very young family and it would not be fair to let the disease rule our lives while we were engaged on the battlefield of cancer. We chose to live.

And live we did. I am so proud of my courageous wife, for all she endured and the spirit in which she persevered. Seven years later I beam when I tell people that she is living cancer-free and considered to be cured.

If you’ve read this far, I appreciate your indulgence and promise this really does have something to do with the outdoors!

Last week one of my favorite hunting magazines arrived in the mail and as soon as I got in the house I plopped down on the couch and began thumbing the pages like an excited school girl looking through her first Teen magazine. I LOVE it when my hunting and outdoor magazines arrive. They sustain me during the Spring and Summer months when the only thing I’m shooting are clay pigeons at the local Sporting Clays course.

As I turned the pages I came across an article talking about the explosion of pink-colored gear targeted at women in the outdoors. There were accompanying pictures of some very colorful outdoor products – everything from guns to arrows to binoculars and the like.

The fascination with pink products is relatively new, but there has been several writings written over the past year about them and whether outdoorswomen find them attractive or offensive. Some of my favorite blog peeps, like Deer Passion and NorCal Cazadora, have written on the subject.

But what struck home about the story in the magazine wasn’t the pink products – which I honestly don’t get; do woman really look at this stuff and say, “Ohhhh, piiiiinnnnkkkk, must have!”, and buy it knowing that it is pretty much impractical to use in the field. But I digress, that’s another post.

What struck home about the article was the description of a pink product that I can get behind; pink arrows from Victory Archery of San Diego. The reason I was drawn to it was that Victory has a campaign called the Pink Arrow Project. The company makes and sells their VForce arrows in pink, with the majority of the profits going to the National Breast Cancer Foundation. Now that is just too cool.

I contacted Bart Lawhorn, Victory’s general manager, and asked him how and why they started the Pink Arrow Project. Bart said the idea came about in 2007 at an International Bowhunting Organization National Triple Crown in Erie, PA where for the first time, his wife of 27 years came to help set up the Victory product booth. Bart had made several pink arrows for a young girl that is on Victory’s National Shooting Staff and when Christa saw the arrows, the idea sprung to mind. As a nurse, Christa has been around cancer patients her whole career so the idea was natural.

When several people came by the Victory booth and asked how they could purchase the pink arrows, Christa quickly orchestrated that they would offer them for sale in October, since October is breast cancer awareness month.

Bart says that he receives hundreds of calls and emails about the project, which now donates a large portion of Victory’s profits to this project. Bart says that anybody can help, even if you don’t shoot a bow.

In fact, yours truly doesn’t archery hunt, but I’d buy a few pink arrows from Victory just to support the cause. I admire any company like Victory for their commitment to making a difference. With funding from efforts like this we have made great strides at increasing the cure rates for breast cancer.

If you know someone struggling with breast cancer or simply want to be part of the cure, there are wonderful resources through organizations like the American Cancer Society, and Susan G. Komen For the Cure. Or, simply buy a pink arrow from Victory and slip it in your quiver or put it on you shelf to show your support.

My wife and children personally thank you.


Blessed said...

That is a product I can support! Oh, and I do archery hunt!

Glad to hear your wife is living cancer free. We had a scare when I was 26, fortunately it ended up just being a benign tumor but I still get to have regular mammograms! My dad had his first fight with cancer at the young age of 34, the second round was at age 53, and once again he's cancer free and I'm glad!

Shoreman said...

I'm glad to hear your Wife is cancer free. We lost a very good friend to cancer in February. Started with breast cancer and grew from there. I, myself, am a cancer survivor and would support the pink arrow project as I do others like Susan G Komen and the ACS. Always good to hear about survivors.

Anonymous said...

This was a very good post. I do know someone that is also a breast cancer survivor so it does mean quite a bit to me.
After reading this I had to show my support as well by placing the "Pink Project" logo in my sidebar with of course a link to their site.
Nice job again on the post and I am very happy you and your wife and kids are doing great.

native said...

Truly inspiring story!
Really made me stop and think, which is something I have done rarely these days with all of this economic turmoil and double time working that I have been involved in here of late.

In fact, I am listening to my little (soon to be) 2 year old son just waking up and singing to himself softly.
I am going to stay home today with the family and work be damned.

Thank you for sharing this wonderful story!

P.S. With absolutely "no" persuasion from myself and my wife whatsoever, our 3 1/2 year old daughter loves anything cinderella and pink, and our son is completely obsessed with cars and trucks.
It is just in the genes that way I guess!

Live to Hunt.... said...

Thanks for sharing your own stories, and I am sorry for those who are also dealing with this terrible disease. Native - I love that spirit! Having such young kids when this happened definitely gave us more motivation to stop and appreciate things like never before!

NorCal Cazadora said...

I too am glad to hear your wife is cancer-free! Congratulations - for not just surviving, but living.

LC said...

What a moving post, Jon. Kudos to the courage you all showed in the face of such ominous circumstances, to your wife especially.

Anonymous said...

Jon - Thanks so much for sharing something so "personal" yet so meaningful. I know that having a positive attitude when faced with extremely difficult times is a great asset. My mother is a cancer survivor about to turn (88) years young. Give the wife an extra hug tonight, she is a champion.

Anonymous said...

First, I'm glad your wife is cancer free. I know from my experience with family members what an awful disease it can be, and I'm glad you conquered it.

Second, I think it's wonderful that you're publicizing the Pink Arrow project. There are so many projects out there like that which are doing so much good, but they need help spreading the word.

Yes, I feel another Write About the Good Challenge coming on. I'll try and restrain myself.

The Hunter's Wife said...

Jon, I'm glad to hear your wife has won a very tough battle. It's a heart breaking thing to have to go through.

Terry Scoville said...

Excellent post Jon. Let me echo the above sentiment of your wife being cancer free, YIPPEEE! i have 3 friends who have/are battling breast cancer and I am amazed with their inner strenght and courage.

Having lost my dad to cancer, it has been an ongoing commitment of mine to support the fight against cancer.

Continued good health and happiness to your wife and entire family!

SimplyOutdoors said...

I'm glad to hear your wife is cancer free, and that you two, and the kids, chose to live through the cancer.

I think this arrow project is awesome, and even though my wife could care less if her arrows are pink, I think we still need to buy some just because.

Great post.

Fatty said...

I now know exactly what I'm getting my Dad for Christmas.