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Suits and Sneakers Challenge

January 21, 2014

Who knew that six letters and two syllables could turn your world upside down?

In January 2009, while home from law school over Christmas break, I was out at a bar celebrating with friends when my phone rang late in the night.  The caller ID read, “Home,” and I remember thinking, “That’s weird.  My parents never call this late.”

Despite how loud it was in the bar, I picked up the phone. All I could make out over the loud music was that my Dad was crying.  The toughest guy I knew was crying.  And because I was somewhere so loud, I couldn’t figure out why.  In all honesty, what I made out was, “I’m being arrested.”  This only added to my confusion.

Hearing my dad cry and thinking he was being arrested only led me to do one thing:  Cry.  I burst into tears in the middle of a crowded bar.  And when my friends asked me what was going on, I said, “I don’t know.  I’m really confused.  Can somebody take me home?”

I spent thirty minutes on the drive to my parents’ house in shock and confusion thinking that my Dad was being arrested.  It didn’t make sense.  My Dad is a good man with a good job with no real vices.  Arrested?  For what?

When my friends pulled into my parents’ driveway to drop me off, I didn’t see any cop cars, which only added to my confusion.  My dad greeted me at the door, obviously shaken up.

It turns out that what I heard as, “I’m being arrested” was actually, “I’m passing blood in my urine.”

In that moment, I was strangely relieved.  My dad wasn’t going to jail, after all!

That relief was short-lived, though.

I said, “Well, that doesn’t seem normal.  Neither of us is doing anything.  Why don’t we head up to the emergency room?”

I drove my Dad the five miles to Lutheran Hospital in the early hours of that morning.  We waited for a short time in the waiting room and then got moved back to see a doctor.  The doctor ran tests, gave him some medicine and handed him a phone number for an oncologist to call at a more reasonable hour.

Within the week, we got the diagnosis that nobody wants:  My dad had cancer.

Six letters.  Two syllables.  World upside down.

Within days and before we knew the seriousness of his diagnosis, I had to drive back to California to return to law school for my last semester.  My dad was the biggest motivation in my life for my pursuing a law degree.  I spent all 1,000 miles wavering between tears, anger and confusion over the thought that I didn’t know if he’d make it to my graduation that May.

Each of us has a cancer story.  A mother.  A father.  A grandpa.  A 26-year-old sorority sister who cancer took away to heaven too soon.

As a writer, there is nothing I love more than telling a story.  Cancer, though, is a story that must end.

It is because I want the story of cancer to end that I have partnered with Coaches vs. Cancer in their Suits and Sneakers Challenge benefitting the American Cancer Society for this month’s #Sports4Good campaign.

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Here’s how it works:

On Monday, January 27, basketball coaches and employees alike will be lacing up their sneakers for work.  Whether your work wardrobe is a suit, warmups or pair of jeans, by donating $5 or more to the campaign, you earn the right to wear tennis shoes to work on January 27.  All donations benefit the American Cancer Society and are tax deductible.  You can make your donation by clicking here.

Will you wear sneakers to work with me on January 27?  Will you encourage your friends and co-workers to wear sneakers to work, too?  Will you skip a latte or a beer or eating just one lunch out so that you can donate $5 to put the story of cancer to an end?  Will you share your story of why you want the story of cancer to end?

To keep up with the campaign, be sure to follow the hashtag #Sports4Good on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.  There, you will be able to see who is lacing up their shoes to kick cancer where the sun doesn’t shine.  And while we may not all agree on sports teams or who will make it to the Final Four, I think it’s safe to say that we ALL can get behind that!

$5.  That’s all it takes this month.  And given the stories we all have about cancer, I think it’s safe to say that it would be $5 well spent to end this story.

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