I’ve always been a storyteller, and as a professional, I’ve worked as a writer for over a dozen years. As a journalist I write for newspapers, magazines, blogs; in marketing I wrote for technology, the arts, publishing; and as a grantwriter I wrote grants for people who are living with HIV disease. In my years as a grantwriter, I learned how to read epidemiological data so that I could use the numbers to help me tell the story. What catches your attention more: “A whole lot of people who live in North Carolina have AIDS”; or “Over 35,000 North Carolinians are living with HIV or AIDS”? As much as I don’t want to admit it, the numbers make a difference.
The same goes with other important facts: the numbers grab your attention and make you listen. Check this out: The National Cancer Institute estimates that “nearly 12 million Americans with a history of cancer were alive in January 2008. About 1,638,910 new cancer cases are expected to be diagnosed in 2012.” And if you consider those numbers together, then by the end of the year 4% of Americans will be living with some form of cancer.
My grandmother had breast cancer in the early 1970s; my 18-year-old cousin had breast cancer in the late 1990s; my father-in-law had colon cancer in the early part of the new millennium; my uncle was diagnosed with prostate cancer last winter; my good friend was diagnosed with lung cancer in November; and one of my son’s best friends was diagnosed with anaplastic large-cell lymphoma five years ago, when they were in the third grade.
Everyone I’ve noted here has some good, and some bad, news with their diagnoses … but our friend Nick has a truly triumphant story to tell. He and his family are featured in the January/February 2012 Triangle Edition of Touched by Cancer. “Score One for the Kid: Three Years After Beating Cancer, Nicholas Altizer is Back, Better Than Ever” is a great story. A triumphant story. A story of happiness—though remembering the Altizers battle made me a little weepy—but most of all, a story of hope.
Nick has done some truly amazing things in his young life. He’s a seasoned and talented soccer player; as a Make A Wish kid, he met Peyton Manning; as a friend, he’s top of the line; and as a warrior in his own battle against cancer, he won. Like his mother said in the interview: “After beating cancer, the rest of his life is going to be a piece of cake.”
I’ve decided that hope is a powerful motivator. It’s like the sweetest nectar and elixir of the Gods, combined with scoring a hat trick in a soccer game and making a 105 on your algebra test, and having your favorite dinner that same night–all rolled into one. And I’ve decided that, like me … and my friend Peggy Noodle, everyone can use a little hope. On Fridays, I’m going to highlight a hopeful, happy story I’ve learned about during the week to lighten your heart, sweeten your mood, and put a little a pep in your step.
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High Five is a weekly post on hope. Got good news to share? Let me know: dolly [ at ] dolly dozier [ dot ] org.