(A repost of an essay from two years ago but still as relevant today.)
In Memory Of Steve Kurtz
Yesterday, on the anniversary of the horror remembered as Pearl Harbor sixty-nine years prior, Elizabeth Edwards died from the scourge of breast cancer. Cancer has taken the lives of more people than all the wars combined but this crucible of death kills its victims one at a time. Each of us have experienced the death of a loved one or an acquaintance from cancer one death at a time.
Steve Kurtz, my son-in-law and soul mate of my daughter, Sherri, for forty years was the father of two : daughter, Alix, and son, Stephen. He died one year ago today, December 8th, from a losing battle with cancer. To all who knew Steve his death was a close personal loss. To number crunchers his death added one to the total number someone tallies for a report.
This is also "Jimmy V Week" known to basketball enthusiasts when country wide donation appeals are everywhere on television to support cancer research. A much heralded basketball coach, Jim Valvano, died from cancer during his prime years, much like my son-in-law, and, to their credit, the basketball community unselfishly took up the challenge to fund cancer research and labeled it "Jimmy V Week".
Off budget our country has fought two very expensive wars while also off budget our country has decided to add nearly one more trillion dollars to the debt. As a culture America has long passed over the idea of paying for things as they occur; such as for wars or tax relief for the super rich. What would happen if a couple of trillion dollars were spent on eradicating cancer instead of buying bullets or drones or nukes?
Parceled out, one at a time, the enormity of the total deaths from cancer looses urgency in a society's psyche. The public embraces the aftermath of hurricanes, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, tornadoes, just about any earthly malfunction since they visually abrupt the norm of the day. Cancer is stealth like, progressively declining its victim's vigor, silently encroaching on a life style, and then cancer begins its demand for its pound of flesh. Only the end remains !
The Relay For Life has taken up the challenge locally with an appreciated success for its record fund raising performances over the years. When will the spirit of The Relay For Life enter every legislator's soul to draw their thinking to make war on cancer rather than war on countries and cultures?
I think of Steve, my parents, my business partners, my classmates, my co-workers, my relatives, my close friends, my ... the list goes on and on in an endless addition. To me the enormity of just my total of cancer victims mirrors an earthly catastrophe. Legislators-where are you hiding when the sky is falling down all around us ?
Ronald C. Downie