There comes a time in all of our lives when you get the chance to make a difference in the world. "You must be the change you wish to see in the world," Ghandi says. We are given this opportunity every single day.
I recall one of my first trips to New York and spending time with a man who would eventually become a truly great friend, Shai Tertner. We were walking down 22nd Street - where the office for his amazing events company, Shiraz Events, was and still is and I remember bending down to catch a flying piece of newspaper and crumpling it up and throwing it in the nearest bin.
He found this odd but then uttered the words, "Hey - I guess be the change you wish to see..."
And that stuck with me.
Now, over 4 years later, those wise words are still resounding throughout my life.
I have had the blessing of an amazing community, amazing friends and family, and an amazing medical team to help me through this time in my life. From incredible hospital care to generous donations to #teamlanier - I can honestly say that I have the best support system that anyone could wish for.
When I was diagnosed with cancer - my immediate reaction was not all "Woe is me" or "OMG my life is over." It was more along the lines of "Alrighty then...well while this does blow big monkey balls...how can I make something good out of it?" "How can I impact the world and 'be the change' through this experience?"
When the opportunity came to work with Saxon/Hart and to develop my way to pay it forward, I jumped at it...still jumping. _____:CANCER was born out of many brainstorming meetings, emails, Skype calls between the Saxon/Hart team and myself. Together we created a way to first provide fundraising for my out of pocket medical bills, but then to ultimately build an initiative that brings awareness to Ulcerative Colitis and Colorectal Cancer and to raise funds to directly impact others who find themselves in a similar predicament.
With the first _____:CANCER event, funds are being raised to go towards the #teamlanier total for medical bills and other ulcerative colitis and cancer related expenses. After those bills are handled and all the doctors and hospitals are happy, the balance is going into a fund that will allow me to then pay it forward to others. After my final surgery, I plan to begin accepting applications from others in need of financial assistance, others who find themselves unable to afford their doctor visits, surgeries, hospital stays, ostomy equipment, and/or time off from work.
"Why don't I donate it to a research organization or to another awareness campaign?" you may ask.
Giving to a large organization is great. If you do it - I applaud you. Personally, I would rather my money and my fundraising efforts to directly impact an individual. I will have the pleasure knowing that the work I've done has had a direct effect on a person, on a family, and on a community. That is what _____:CANCER was started for and that is what it will live on to be after my surgeries are done.
We will give hope to others.
We will help those in need.
We will pay it forward.
And we will be the change we wish to see in the world.