Last weekend, Emily and I [Miles] drove to San Francisco to attend the 7th Annual Simply the Best Gala. Each year, the Bonnie J. Addario Lung Cancer Foundation puts on this amazing, black-tie event to raise funds for lung cancer research. Bonnie was generous enough to invite Emily and me as guests and to waive the $500 per person tickets (yeah, this party is legit).
Held in the renowned Fairmont Hotel Ballroom, the décor was astonishing. Massive chandeliers hung from the ceiling. Dinner tables draped in fancy linens beckoned with ornate centerpieces. A local choir performed center stage to greet arriving guests. It felt like we were crashing a royal party. Oh, and did I mention the open bar?
The event was spectacular. Unbelievable items – diamond earrings, paintings, Costa Rica trips – were auctioned off with all proceeds going to lung cancer research (by the way, how cool are actual auctioneers?). At one point, Emily was called up on stage to draw the winning raffle ticket . . . and, I must say, she pulls off a helluva Vanna White impersonation. Near the end of the festivities, Bonnie called for guests to “help make a difference” by donating to beat this awful disease. Although lung cancer had never directly impacted most of them, in less than ten minutes, they had contributed more than $80,000. It was exhilarating to know that while we fight in the present, there may be a cure in the future due to their generosity.
I cannot stress enough how uplifting the night was for Emily. She met and spoke with so many survivors. She learned new alternative therapies from Natalie DiMarco, who is currently undergoing radiation on the final remaining tumor in her lung, after defeating numerous other tumors and removing all cancer from her pleural lining. Bill Kipp, who knocked cancer out of his diaphragm and is currently shrinking the tumor in his lung, shared his story and inspired Emily in her own fight. Emily shared supplement recommendations with Brian Kissinger, an effusive three-year survivor and young father who has been stable for the past several years. Jackie Archer, a seven-year survivor, held Emily’s hand and told her, “You will beat this.”
The event inspired and fueled Emily. She radiated life on the walk back to our hotel room, and we celebrated with a jig down the hallway. I don’t think either of us really knew why we were so happy. Later that night, as she slept, I realized . . .
Sometimes the hardest part about cancer is not its toll on the patient’s body, but rather on the mind. It can be mentally crippling. The concept of defeating cancer can be daunting and overwhelming. Emily has a remarkable ability to simplify the fight to a more mentally digestible day-to-day battle. Each night before she goes to bed, she emphatically tells me, “I beat cancer today, and I will beat it tomorrow.” Recently, as the chemotherapy side effects have increased, she has gained motivation to fight back by refusing to let cancer strip one single moment of her life. Yet, despite Emily’s incredible willpower, and her constant proclamation that she is her own statistic, the challenge of beating lung cancer can seem like a never-ending uphill climb in the dark. The Gala, and our encounters with actual survivors, provided a light of hope that illuminated the top of that climb. We may have a way to go, but there is an end in sight. We no longer just have hope. We have a new-found confidence.
Thank you to Bonnie and her organization. We are ever so grateful.
Love to all. Live in the moment,
Miles and Emily