Saturday, November 5, 2011

30 Days of Thanksgiving: Day 13

Today, the cause I am thankful for is a group called, “Voices of Hope” ( Voices of Hope (VOH) was conceived by my friend Greg Chastain, who lost his mother in 2009 after a long battle with pancreatic cancer. VOH is an organization of more than 100 local performers who donate their time and talent to raise awareness and funds for cancer research. With music as their voice, these inspirational performers, whose lives have all been affected in some way by cancer, share stories of hope, loss, and courage through, song, dance, and testimonials, allowing for an intimate and inspiring look at our collective fight against cancer.

I first sang with VOH at Symphony Hall in Boston in September 2010. It was an awe-inspiring experience for me, both because, frankly, SYMPHONY HALL!!!! And because the musical performances were interspersed with stories from various cast members of how they had been affected by cancer, either because they were cancer survivors, or because they had lost (or nearly lost) a friend or family member to cancer. I had lost my father to liver cancer in 2003, and my mother had recently been through a year-long struggle with ovarian cancer, and after two major surgeries and chemotherapy, she was healthy and able to be at the concert.

My second performance with VOH was particularly emotional for me. This performance was at the lovely Shalin Liu Center in Rockport, which looks out over the ocean, in May 2011. My mother’s ovarian cancer had recurred a few months after the previous concert, but this time it did not respond to chemotherapy and she had passed away only a month before. I was also 6 months pregnant and definitely not feeling my best. But what better place to be in that situation than doing something I loved, surrounded by those I loved, and by those who understood exactly what I was going through. I listened to the stories of love and loss with somewhat different ears that time.

The deep personal connection to the cause of cancer research is what sets VOH apart from many other fund-raising groups, in my opinion. The passion of each and every member brings a devotion to the cause that is rarely seen. And I am so thankful that they have found a way to channel that passion into a cause that is bringing us closer to a cure every day. I am thankful for Greg, who came up with the idea, for the members of the VOH board, who continually find new ways to bring attention and funding to the cause, and to all the performers who give their time and talent to make those ideas a reality.

The three things I am thankful for today are cake mixes, Costco, and car seat heaters. And yes, those three things are related!!!

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