Every Picture Tells A Story

For me, cancer is personal; given the statistics, it’s likely to be personal for all of us.

Cancer is such an impersonal word. According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, it is “A serious disease caused by cells that are not normal and that can spread to one or many parts of the body.” What’s missing from that definition, however, is the raw, all-too-human experience of the people whose cells have turned against them. Mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, sons, daughters, husbands, and wives whose lives have been divided into two distinct periods: BC—before cancer, and AC—after cancer. The patients—and their families—who go to bed at night fearful and anxious, and once the fog of sleep has lifted, are filled with the very same fears and anxieties. As all the things they thought were important recede into the background, simply living becomes all that matters. I know… I’ve been there.

It’s no secret why I’ve made the fight against cancer my mission. Having lost my first husband, Jay, and my sister, Emily, to colon and pancreatic cancer, respectively, I have two very good reasons to stand up. I’ve spent the last several weeks posting photographs of people affected by cancer on my social media accounts.

As I stare at their faces and share their stories — some of the people I know, some I do not — I feel a deep connection to those living with the disease, others looking at it in their rearview mirrors, and still others who were taken far too soon. Whatever their ages, whatever their particular diagnosis, the heart-stopping fear prompted by these three words —“You have cancer”— is often followed by almost superhero courage. They are all cancer warriors, and I am in awe of their grit and grace. As these posts show, every day there are more and more reasons to refuse to take this sitting down.

  • Patrick Swayze appeared on our first SU2C telecast and asked, “Will you stand up with me?” Patrick lost his fight with pancreatic cancer in 2009, but his willingness to literally put himself out there still inspires me and makes him one of my #Reasons2StandUp.

  • Pearce Quesenberry is one of my heroes. We met eight years ago at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, not long after she was diagnosed with medulloblastoma, a type of brain cancer. Now 19 and a college sophomore, Pearce recently had surgery to remove another small tumor. Ever positive and irrepressible, Pearce will be my guest at the telecast tonight and is one of my #Reasons2StandUp.

  • Daniel Jacobs happens to be a champion in the boxing ring, holder of the WBA Middleweight title. He accomplished this after scoring a knockout against bone cancer. Now his goal is to help others fight for their dreams, making Daniel another of my #Reasons2StandUp.

  • Laura Ziskin was a legendary film producer, indefatigable cancer fighter and beloved colleague—one of the SU2C co-founders. She produced our first two telecasts, before breast cancer took her from us in 2011. Laura is one of my #Reasons2StandUp.

  • I’m sure everyone reading this has a reason to stand up. We’ve heard from many of you and your responses have been so moving and inspiring. There have been stories of sadness and loss, but also stories with happy endings that fill me with hope.

In this video compilation, Jamie Lee Curtis, Dulé Hill, Terry Crews, Lizzy Caplan, and Keke Palmer are just some of the celebrities who share their own, very personal #Reasons2StandUp.

With their support, and generous donations from individuals, foundations and corporations, SU2C’s 19 research Dream Teams are making real progress toward our goal of turning cancer into a disease that’s manageable and survivable. The funds we have raised help drive the innovative research that has led to 160 clinical trials of new treatments, involving more than 9,000 patients. It’s been said in years past, but it’s never been truer than it is right now, that we are at a critical point in this race. We’ve never been closer to the finish line and I’ve never been more optimistic we will cross it. But, we need your help.

When we started Stand Up To Cancer back in 2008, we knew the two things it would take to change the face of cancer: brains and money. For the former, we enlisted the brightest minds at leading research institutions around the world to be bold, innovate, and most of all, collaborate instead of compete. For the money, we aimed to harness the star power of Hollywood not only to raise awareness, but to attract donations—big and small.

Fast-forward eight years, and I’m excited to report that our SU2C funding model is producing results beyond what we ever imagined. Right now, two FDA-approved therapies resulting from SU2C clinical trials are helping patients—and there are more promising treatments on the way.

For me, cancer is personal; given the statistics, it’s likely to be personal for all of us. I can’t change my past, but I can do everything in my power to try to change the future by supporting the scientists whose research and discoveries give others the hope they need to fuel the fight.

I hope you’ll read the stories and look at the photos that so many others have posted… and use #Reasons2StandUp on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to share yours. Be sure to watch the SU2C telecast tonight, Friday, September 9, at 8 PM/7 CT to see your favorite film and TV stars, music artists, and cancer survivors share their reasons.

We all have a reason to stand up. What’s yours?

CONVERSATIONS