Monday, April 18, 2016

Cancer and the Candidates


Another election season is upon us and all of the candidates are talking about issues - some serious and some not at all - but none of them has talked about cancer and the toll this horrible disease is taking on our country, and our world.

Cancer is not a Republican, Democrat, Independent, Conservative, Liberal, or Tea Party issue – it is a people issue.  Cancer touches all of us.  11,000 Americans die each week from cancer. That’s unacceptable. What’s worse is that these people do not live in a vacuum. They’re our mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, and friends, or in my case, my child, Teddi.  It is as if one of the Twin Towers is falling every single day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. 

It is pretty hard to understand how we, as a country, have given a blank check to protecting the homeland – to the tune of some 2-3 Trillion Dollars – but if you asked someone if they were more afraid of being attacked by a terrorist or going to the doctor and walking out with a diagnosis of cancer, I would venture to say that cancer is the bigger fear.  And it is no surprise that people are in fear of cancer.  If you are a woman, you have a one in three chance of being diagnosed with cancer, and if you’re a man, the chances are one in two, in your lifetime.  Those are NOT very great odds.

We have the means and the technology to be successful in this endeavor, but we all need to come together to make it happen.  Here at Camp Good Days, we continue to collect signatures on our Cancer Mission 2020 Petition, which supports clinical trials, as clinical trials are where the answers are going to come from.  If you have not visited our Cancer Mission 2020 website, www.cancermission2020.org, I encourage you to do so, and to sign our petition, and then share it with your family, friends, colleagues, and co-workers.  Join us in letting our current and future leaders know that we want finding the answers to cancer put on the front burner.
What greater gift could a President give those of us here in the United States, and people around the globe, than the legacy of having made finding the answers to cancer a priority and successfully completing that mission?

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month


March is colorectal cancer awareness month and as we begin this month, it is a perfect time to remind everyone that cancer is the leading cause of death in Monroe County and colorectal cancer is the second leading cancer killer in Monroe County. 

Colorectal cancer is the fourth most common type of cancer diagnosis, but it is the second leading cause of death due to cancer (behind lung cancer). On average each year, 370 Monroe County residents are diagnosed with colorectal cancer and about 140 die from it. 

Deaths from colorectal cancer can be prevented through screening.  When colorectal cancer is diagnosed early, at the localized stage, the five-year survival rate is 90%. In some cases colorectal cancer can be prevented when precancerous polyps are removed during colonoscopies.  There are several different screening tests that can be used to find polyps or colorectal cancer. Each one can be used alone; sometimes they are used in combination. People should talk with their doctor about which test(s) is right for them and how often they should be tested. For those of average risk, screening tests usually begin at age 50.  Screening tests that can detect cancer and polyps include a colonoscopy and the less invasive, FIT Test, which may indicate cancer.

It is so important to the war on cancer that we all do our part to help reduce the number of deaths caused by cancer.  This is an exciting year for those of us who want to put cancer on the front burner.  In his recent State of the Union Address, President Obama talked about “Moonshot” and the effort to try and find the answers to cancer.  He stated, “For the loved ones we’ve all lost, for the families that we can still save, let’s make America the country that cures cancer once and for all. What do you think? Let’s make it happen.”  And he shared that he has tasked Vice President Biden with leading this mission. 

All of us, need to be aware that cancer is one of the leading causes of death and we can all help, in one way or another, to change this.  We at Camp Good Days and through the efforts of Cancer Mission 2020, urge people to wear blue this month, in recognition of colorectal cancer awareness month, but to also focus on preventative measures such as physical activity, healthy eating habits, taking advantage of the various screening tests available, and talking to your physician about preventative actions. 

Here at Camp Good Days, we continue to collect signatures on our Cancer Mission 2020 Petition, which supports clinical trials, as clinical trials are where the answers are going to come from.  If you have not visited our Cancer Mission 2020 website, www.cancermission2020.org, I encourage you to do so, and to sign our petition, and then share it with your family, friends, colleagues, and co-workers.  Join us, and join Vice President Biden, to let everyone know that we want finding the answers to cancer put on the front burner, so that we can all, as Americans, be rid of the fear of cancer and truly enjoy good days and special times!

 

Monday, February 8, 2016

34th Annual Teddi Dance for Love


The 34th Annual Teddi Dance for Love, which took place at St. John Fisher College on Friday and Saturday, January 29th & 30th, generated more than $54,000.00 to benefit the children and families at Camp Good Days and Special Times.  It is amazing to think that this event has been going on for 34 years and has become such a long-standing tradition and important part of the St. John Fisher College campus, culture and community. 

This year’s Teddi Dance for Love had a lot of “firsts”, some good and some sad.  This was the first year that Dr. Gerard Rooney was there in the role of President of the college.  He, along with his wife, Susan, helped to carry on the tradition on behalf of the administrative team and we were so happy to have had them in attendance.  On the sad side, this is the first year we were without the beloved Father Joe, who passed away in July 2015.  Each year, Father Joe would be at the Teddi Dance for Love, but his most important role, and one of everyone’s favorite parts of the event, is that he would bless all of the dancers’ feet, prior to the dance beginning.  We certainly felt his absence this year, but we know that he was blessing all of those feet from heaven and smiling down, happy to know the dance was going on.

Our kudos go out to this year’s Teddi Dance for Love Chair, Bri Macaluso, who along with her Co-Chair, Hilary Wilcox, and the entire student committee, who all worked so hard and dedicated so much time, in addition to their studies and extracurricular activities, to make this year’s Teddi Dance for Love a resounding success.  In addition, we would like to thank Jennifer Johnson, of 13WHAM TV for serving as this year’s Honorary Chair, and to all those, from the dancers, administration, faculty, staff, and volunteers, who all gave so much of themselves, to benefit the many children and families we serve.

This year we had many, many St. John Fisher College Alumni who came back to participate in the event, one that meant so much to them when they were students.  And, a large group of our campers had the opportunity to attend on Saturday and meet the dancers and they all had a great time together. 

All of the proceeds from the Teddi Dance for Love benefit the children and families at Camp Good Days and specifically go towards helping to make the Annual Florida Trip possible.  This year's Florida Trip is planned for April 21st through 27th and the campers will have the chance to visit Universal Studios/Islands of Adventure, Disney's Epcot Center, LegoLand, and St. Pete Beach.

The Annual Teddi Dance for Love is one of my most favorite events held each year.  The Teddi Dance for Love is a place where the students, along with some of the faculty, staff and administration, come together to celebrate life to the fullest, with some of the campers from Camp Good Days who have learned to appreciate each and every day and the gifts that many of us, so often, take for granted.  As Teddi’s Dad, they also give me something that words can’t describe.  As Dr. Lou Buttino, who started the Teddi Dance for Love when he was a Professor at St. John Fisher, said in his very special book, Camp Good Days and Special Times: The Legacy of Teddi Mervis, ‘Immortality is being loved by anonymous people.’  During the Teddi Dance for Love, Teddi’s spirit is alive and I know that she has touched the lives of all those students, faculty, staff, administrators, volunteers, and campers, who in some way or another have been a part of this special event over the past 34 years.”

 

Friday, January 29, 2016

Scott Norwood & The Teddi Dance for Love


It is hard to believe that it was 25 years ago that the Buffalo Bills played in one of the closest games in Super Bowl history and Scott Norwood missed the kick, far right.  It is also hard to believe that many people don't know more about Scott and the fact that he was not only a good kicker, with a great NFL career, but he is a fantastic person and someone who has always loved and supported the children we serve at Camp Good Days and Special Times. 

When he was with the Bills, Scott started the Kicking for Kids program in which donations were made for every successful field goal, to benefit Camp Good Days.  That program was carried on by Steve Christie, who had never even met Scott, but had great respect for him, and still goes on today.  Scott has taken the time to visit the Camp Good Days' Recreational Facility to personally spend time with the campers and volunteers, and one year, during our Doing A World Of Good Program, for children with cancer from countries around the world, he helped to make it possible for them to attend a Bills' game, helping to create a once-in-a-lifetime experience for many of them.  Scott also has taken the time of his schedule to attend the Camp Good Days' Tournament of Love Golf Tournament many, many times over the years. 

One of the most memorable visits that Scott made though, was to attend the Teddi Dance for Love at St. John Fisher College.  The 34th Annual Teddi Dance for Love is taking place tonight, starting at 8PM through tomorrow night at 8PM, at St. John Fisher College, and it was 25 years ago, shortly after that fateful Super Bowl, that Scott went above and beyond.  The students that year, given all the excitement about the Bills, wanted to have someone from the team attend the Dance for Love and speak to the dancers.  I asked Scott if he would be willing to come and to his credit, he said yes, and he came to Rochester that weekend and attended the event, and spoke to the dancers and volunteers about how much their efforts, support and generosity, meant to the children of Camp Good Days.  There are not many people, being in the situation and spotlight that he was in at that time, who would have agreed to that request. 

Following that Super Bowl, Scott never backed away from what had happened and in fact, answered all of the reporters' questions that night; and you will never find a teammate of Scott's who will point their finger at him or have anything negative to say about him.  Scott was a good kicker, but more importantly, he is a great person, a great husband and father, and a true first-class human being.  He is someone that I am pleased to consider a friend and someone I am forever grateful to for his generous support of the children and families we serve.  

Friday, January 15, 2016

Moonshot Mission


As many of you know, our motto here at Camp Good Days is “adapt and adjust”, and with that in mind, that is why I am posting again today.  In Tuesday’s night State of the Union Address, President Obama talked about “Moonshot” and the effort to try and find the answers to cancer.  He stated, “For the loved ones we’ve all lost, for the families that we can still save, let’s make America the country that cures cancer once and for all. What do you think? Let’s make it happen.”  And he shared that he has tasked Vice President Biden with leading this mission. 

I am so pleased and so excited that our leader has finally chosen someone to lead this effort, and in Vice President Biden, I have so much hope because I believe that he will take this task very seriously, and dedicate the necessary time and energy, given his personal, and so recent experience within his own family, with the battle his son endured and ultimately succumbed to.  I hope that we can look at 2016 as the year when we all took a giant step forward in finding the answers that all of us involved with Cancer Mission 2020 have been seeking and working towards. 

It is somewhat ironic, and somewhat full-circle, that Cancer Mission 2020 launched in 2009, following President Obama’s first State of the Union Address in which he said that cancer is a disease that touches all of us and we can defeat cancer in our lifetime.  I have been waiting such a long time to have a President use his bully pulpit to address cancer in this country.  Cancer is not a Republican, Democrat, Independent, Conservative, Liberal, or Tea Party issue – it is a people issue. 

Cancer touches all of us.  11,000 Americans die each week from cancer. That’s unacceptable. What’s worse is that these people do not live in a vacuum. They’re our mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, and friends, or in my case, my child, Teddi.  It is as if one of the Twin Towers is falling every single day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. 

It is pretty hard to understand how we, as a country, have given a blank check to protecting the homeland – to the tune of some 2-3 Trillion Dollars – but if you asked someone if they were more afraid of being attacked by a terrorist or going to the doctor and walking out with a diagnosis of cancer, I would venture to say that cancer is the bigger fear.  And it is no surprise that people are in fear of cancer.  If you are a woman, you have a one in three chance of being diagnosed with cancer, and if you’re a man, the chances are one in two, in your lifetime.  Those are NOT very great odds. 

We all need to commit ourselves to do what we can to help Vice President Biden in his mission and to find the answers to cancer so that we can one day be a country that doesn’t have to live in fear of a cancer diagnosis. 

Here at Camp Good Days, we continue to collect signatures on our Cancer Mission 2020 Petition, which supports clinical trials, as clinical trials are where the answers are going to come from.  If you have not visited our Cancer Mission 2020 website, www.cancermission2020.org, I encourage you to do so, and to sign our petition, and then share it with your family, friends, colleagues, and co-workers.  Join us, and join Vice President Biden, to let everyone know that we want finding the answers to cancer put on the front burner, so that we can all, as Americans, be rid of the fear of cancer and truly enjoy good days and special times!

Monday, January 11, 2016

Reflections for the New Year



Here we are, another New Year.  The New Year always brings with it the need to plan for the coming year, but this one also brings the realization that time goes so quickly and things happen every day, things we don’t expect but are forced to deal with and which make us think and reflect.

On New Year’s Eve, I went to the cemetery to visit Teddi, and when I got there, a woman was sitting close to Teddi’s grave, at a new gravesite, obviously very sad and troubled.  I couldn’t help but notice her and had to go talk to her.   When I asked who she was visiting, she said her daughter, who had died from an overdose.  I gave her my condolences and shared that I was also there to visit my daughter.  I only spent a few minutes with her, as she needed her time with her daughter and I needed mine, but when I went to leave, she was gone.  She never made a sound, but I can only hope that I helped her in some small way and that a small act of kindness helped to make her day just a little bit more bearable.  
One never knows the impact that we might have on someone else’s life and we may never realize, until much later, the impact that someone else has on our life.  I recently saw in the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle that Mrs. Letha Ridley had passed away, at the age of 104.  All of a sudden I was taken back many years ago when I was just starting out on my career.  I was substitute teaching in the Rochester City School District and I was looking for a way in which to get more hours and more money and I learned of a few schools that needed subs and one of those was School #20, where Mrs. Ridley, a true pioneer, was the Principal. I was fortunate enough to be able to sub in that school and I learned so much from her.  Looking back, those were such difficult times in the Rochester area, as it was the late 60’s and early 70’s. She was a very tiny, African-American woman but she was strong and tall in her commitment to the children and their education.  She was in a very unique position, as that school was in the heart of the city, but inside those walls, she said the most important thing for the teachers was to set high expectations and educate their students and to then help the children reach those expectations.  If the teachers strived for those goals, she would always have their back, no matter what.  I was able to spend a lot of time with Mrs. Ridley, asking her questions and learning from her, which helped me to become the person I am.

As life goes, I moved on in my life and career and we lost touch, but when I saw the article about her passing, I went back through my archives and found the reference letter she wrote for me; one that I have saved all these years because it meant so much to me.  She truly helped to shape the person I am today, and helped to create the person who is so devoted and committed to making a difference in the lives of our youth, and especially those who are facing some of life’s most difficult battles, through no fault of their own.    

Here we are, Camp Good Days is in its 37th year and going strong because of the continual support of so many and although we fight every day to find the answers to cancer, we still recognize and are dedicated to fulfilling the need for so many dealing with this horrible disease.
As we all take some time to reflect, I resolve this year to not rush and to appreciate each and every single day; to take the time to always practice kindness and gratitude, for those I know and those I don’t know…because you never know how you might impact someone’s life.


Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Kya: A daddy's diary

Now that the St. John Fisher College Football season is over, I have had a chance to relax a little bit and catch up on some reading. Last fall, I was sent a copy of Kya: A daddy’s diary, written by Jeremy Bach, a Canandaigua resident who works at Thompson Hospital as an Operating Room Technician. The title immediately caught my eye, and I’m glad I read it.


Kya: A daddy’s diary is a quick read, and is written about Jeremy’s daughter, Kya, and her fight against a rare form of cancer as it's told through his diary, which documented his daughter's struggle against her illness. Although Kya is still undergoing chemotherapy until April, he remains incredibly upbeat. Furthermore, he wants to be a resource to other fathers who may be going through the same thing his family is.

 

The book is currently selling on Amazon and a portion of the proceeds will benefit Golisano Children’s Hospital. I’d recommend purchasing it and reading it this holiday season.

I wish all of the Camp Good Days family a very Merry Christmas, and only good days and special times in the New Year.

Be sure to keep up with us on social media, follow us on Twitter & Instagram (@campgooddays), and like us on Facebook! Tune in to our radio show, Good Days and Special Times, which airs the first Thursday of every month at 6:30 PM on WYSL 92.1 FM / 1040 AM.