Saturday, April 25, 2009

Fight Cancer. Headbang For Health.

Cancer is a capricious killer.

It holds no regard for age, gender, race, or geographical location.

Practically everyone I know has a loved one who has died of cancer.

My uncle Bob passed away a couple years ago from malignant melanoma that metastasized.

I've had precancerous moles removed from my back.

Sure, we eat our antioxidants, we wear our sunblock, we quit smoking, we even stop re-using plastic bottles, in the hopes that we don't become a statistic. But is that all that we can do?

In 2008, there were 19,230 new cancer cases reported in Oregon alone. 7,450 people in Oregon died of cancer last year. In the US, 565,000 people died from cancer in 2008. To put this in perspective, that's just higher than the population of Portland, and just less than the population of Seattle. That's an astonishing figure.

Let's say Portland gets wiped out this year. Whether through a terrorist attack, through a natural disaster, or through some other means, the entire population of America's 30th largest city is destroyed.

Think that would make the news? You bet.

However, cancer is almost taken for granted. It flies under the radar, a killer to be sure, but one that's accepted as a tragic mainstay of society. We're all immortal until it's our turn.

It's time to do something. Not just for ourselves, but for society as a whole.

The American Cancer Society has been fighting the good fight for years. I love this quote on their website:

"Eleven million cancer survivors will celebrate birthdays this year. That's a sign of progress, proof that a world with more birthdays is possible. Together we'll get well, stay well, find cures, and fight back."

I've been privileged to play at numerous Relay For Life events over the past few years, and dedicated each performance to my uncle Bob. This Wednesday, my band Silversafe and I, as well as Portland indie band Tea For Julie, will be playing a benefit show for the American Cancer Society. The show will be held at Hawthorne Theater, which is located at 3862 SE Hawthorne Blvd in Southeast Portland. Tickets are $8 at the door, and all proceeds from the door as well as from merchandise sales will benefit the American Cancer Society.

This is bigger than music, bigger than entertainment. It's about saving and improving thousands of lives. Sure, you could write a check and put in the mail. I encourage you to do this, too. But here's a chance for you to rock out in the process, to headbang for health. Yes, headbanging is perfectly non-carcinogenic, and the American Chiropractic Association thanks me for promoting it.

I'll also be playing at several other Relay For Life events around Portland this summer, including the June 27 Relay in Oregon City.

This is not an arbitrary cause that I've elected to attach myself to. Another uncle of mine was recently diagnosed with cancer. My grandma is a brain tumor survivor. My sister has already had a cancerous lesion removed from her foot.

For anyone whose lives have felt cancer's icy touch, whether upon themselves or one they love, do something about it! Get involved. Volunteer your time. Participate in events. Donate.
I urge you not to wait around for someone else to make a difference.

As for me, I'll be headbanging. For health. I hope you join me.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Water Balloons Over Baghdad?

Yesterday, as I watched some kids run rampant through their lawn in search of those ubiquitous pastel candy-filled Easter eggs, I reached for a bag of Hershey's Kisses. The same candy that was inside the eggs, the same candy the kids were going crazy for. I was a grown-up, though, and I got to eat as much candy as I wanted without even having to look for it.

I got to thinking: when was the last time I hunted for Easter eggs? Was I eight? Nine?

Granted, I've had some fun hiding eggs for various kids over the years. What kid would ever think to look in the toilet? In the litter box? I was just trying to help these kids curtail their sugar intake, after all.

So why don't we adults hunt for Easter eggs anymore? Perhaps the eggs wouldn't meet any need in our life, and the hunt wouldn't fit into our schedule. "If these Easter eggs don't come with 370 HD channels, a lottery ticket, and a weight-loss pill, then I'm not gonna waste my time looking."

What is it about growing older that makes us unable to experience the joy we once found in simple things? Why does everything have to have a reason? When did childish fun lose its appeal? Why don't we adults have pillow fights? Or play freeze tag? Or 'doctor?' Okay, perhaps we still play doctor, but simply call it something else.

Instead, we adults spend our time slaving away at jobs we never wanted, saving up for the vacation that never turns out the way we hoped it would. We fight wars, we fight at home, we fight at work. What if every disagreement were settled with water guns? What if every war were waged with Super Soakers? What if these deranged individuals I can't stop hearing about on the news stormed into churches and retirement homes and schools and office buildings, twin CPS 4100s in hand, and opened fire, simply drenching hordes of innocent people? What if CNN was full of reports of American planes dropping thousands of water balloons upon unsuspecting Baghdad?

If children ruled the world..

I'm not trying to trivialize the world's problems. I'm just saying that maybe if we learned to stop once in awhile, put away our 401k's and our Blackberries, and enjoyed an Easter egg hunt, the world might be a better place.