Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Walk With Me...

Now is the time of year when I see many fund raising walks for cures of diseases that have effected people I love - family and friends, and loved ones of family and friends. I want to see cures for these things that wreak havoc on so many.

These fundraising walks can be empowering for survivors, beautiful celebrations for families who have lost someone, and inspiration and support for those thick in the battle themselves.  Come together.  Walk together.  Lift each other up. Cry together.  Laugh together.  Celebrate your journey and the journeys of so many others.

Years ago I was asked to sponsor a breast cancer survivor as she embarked on a 3-day walk commemorating the battle she fought and won.  I cried with her diagnosis and cheered with her victory.  I happily donated for her walk and listened with joy as she shared her experience with me upon her return.

Shortly after that it was brought to my attention that Susan G. Komen gave grants to Planned Parenthood.  How disappointing to me that an organization fighting to find a cure for cancer would give money to benefit an organization that takes life.  As a Catholic, I could no longer give money to an organization that is attached to a business that kills.

After that, I did more research and found that many organizations doing research looking for cures to debilitating and life-threatening diseases do research with embryonic stem cells.  Because of my beliefs, I cannot donate to these places.

Friends would post that they were walking for breast cancer, muscular dystrophy, ovarian cancer, etc., etc. and I would check out the sites hoping and praying that I could help them.  They had suffered.  They had struggled.  They watched loved ones battle. They were searching for a cure and I want to see cures found!  However, I have yet to find a fundraising walk that I can donate to that does not do research in part with embryonic stem cells or give grants to an organization that performs abortion after abortion.

A family member battled and conquered breast cancer. What a joyous celebration!  She fought a difficult and most challenging opponent and she came out on top!  And then she asked me to join her team and walk with her.  How wonderful it would be to be able to take her hand and walk with her - physically be there with her and so many others who were touched in some way by this disease.  It was a heart wrenching decision, but I had to tell her no. And our relationship suffered a deep rift that has only slowly healed, although is still scarred today.

I am so proud of those who I know personally, and those who I don't know at all for that matter, who have fought diseases with grace, strength, and perseverance.  Some have lost the battle, although they have been brave and inspiring.  Others are at the beginning of the battle, just getting their footing.  There are warriors in the thick of it, suffering losses and victories, and keeping their tenacious focus on what they hope will one day be the final victory. Some have won their battle and are ever-changed from their personal journeys and experiences.  I celebrate these people.  I am in awe of them. Their strength and their courage inspires me, touches my heart, and brings me to tears.
However, being Catholic I cannot in good conscience donate to or participate in something that does research which also goes against my beliefs about life. It is challenging finding organizations that do not work with embryonic stem cells in their research or themselves give grant money to abortion facilities, but it can be done.  If the time comes when research to obliterate a disease in our society doesn't obliterate a life in the process, it will be a time to rejoice.  That will be a time when I, with great exuberance, will take your hand and walk with you.

"If, then, you are looking for the way by which you should go, take Christ, because He Himself is the way."  St. Thomas Aquinas