The Silver Lining: What Cancer Gives Us

So many tremendous human beings have come to the aid of Catch a Cure.
So many tremendous human beings have come to the aid of Catch a Cure.

I could tell you, and I have, about the damage cancer, and melanoma, has wrought in my own life. I lost my hero and best friend, my father, I lost my health, which in truth was my own fault… but show me someone who deals with the loss of a parent at 27 and moves forward healthfully and I’ll show you a liar.

But I choose not to focus on or look at these things. Cancer has brought much more hope into my life that one might imagine. On the road with Catch a Cure, I saw the absolute best in people: Human beings willing to give of their time and energy to fight for the cause.

Few things in my life have felt better than donating the money I was able to raise to the Melanoma Research Foundation. I found Rick Roth, a man who embodies the spirit of selfless dedication better than most. The people at Hanes donated the T-shirts to be sold for the cause.

Joe Higgins at Tomo’s Tackle in Salem has helped me by selling the shirts out of his shop. The wonderful people at Bassonline in Florida came out of the woodwork to fish for a cure.

People who I have never met and barely talked to have shared my posts through social media to help spread the word.

It’s a funny thing, that when you start to move a stone away from the darkness, so that there might be light… you don’t need all the strength it would take to move that stone alone. If you start to push, so many others come to your aid. It is easy for many of us, and I’m as guilty of this as anyone… to look at that enormous boulder, to see a problem as seemingly insurmountable at cancer, and to let it lie.

But if just approach it with faith, both in ourselves and in those around us, “mighty forces come to our aid.”

 

Catch a Cure II Gets its First Sponsor: Sunology

Good people, making a better product.
Good people, making a better product.

On Sunology’s website, their mission statement reads: “We’re committed to supporting causes that are reflective of our brand values and progressive nature.” That’s an easy sentence to write on a webpage, and one only need to look at Facebook or any social media forum to see that writing about yourself in a positive fashion isn’t all that hard. The other day a UPS truck arrived at my apartment, and I was delivered a box full of Sunology sunscreen and gear.

Why? Sunology is donating a dollar per pound of largemouth bass caught on Catch a Cure II to the Melanoma Research Foundation this coming winter. Opening your wallet for a good cause… That’s decidedly much harder to do than writing or talking, and these people are doing it.

Their sponsorship, during a time when I’m trying to put together partners for this second venture, means more to me than I can express here in words. It’s not the expensive Christmas presents you received at 19 or 20 that you remember, it’s those first ones that lay mysteriously beneath the tree throughout all of Christmas eve, and probably cost less than anything you’d be given in years to follow.

It’s still October here on the North Shore of Massachusetts, but the other day felt decidedly more like Christmas, for me and the cause I’ve come to care so much about, too.

I have every hope, like a kid on Christmas at 5, that there will be years to follow in which Catch a Cure becomes something bigger than it is now, something more than I can make it during this period of my life. But I know, without a doubt, that I’ll remember opening that box on that October day like it was Christmas, no matter how many times I repeat Catch a Cure for the rest of my life.

If you’re in a store and looking to grab sunscreen anytime soon, remember that many are made by large corporations who know you need their product to stay safe and that they don’t need to make any effort whatsoever to encourage you to purchase it. But there’s one sunscreen, at least, that does care… about you, about our health as a species and about their customers. And if you see me on the road this winter, and want a free bottle (or want to give to the Melanoma Research Foundation in exchange for one), flag me down and ask. Unless I live to be a thousand or put on a lot of weight, I won’t be able to use the sunscreen they’ve so generously sent me, and I’d like nothing more than to share it with you.

While Fishing for a Cure, Fishing is The Cure

A Louisiana redfish tail set against the Gulf sky
A Louisiana redfish tail set against the Gulf sky

The strange and beautiful thing about fishing, is that it is so complex in its nature, it’s beloved for a host of different reasons. When a man is “fishing,” he is in reality doing a great many things and perhaps for a number of different reasons, some even unknown to him. 

Fishermen at the dawn of humanity were only seeking sustenance. A hook and a line was a means of avoiding starvation and although we’ve evolved from cave drawings to blogs that can reach all corners of the earth, that motivation remains. For a great many anglers, the simple act of providing their own meals, with their own two hands, is the most rewarding aspect of the whole business.

Still others seek some sense of self-satisfaction, or bragging rights. Certainly fishing is an arena in which, with time and effort, we can excel, and who would keep such feats secret?

Most anglers would admit that the sheer beauty of the surroundings we so often find ourselves in while fishing play at least a small part in their love for the sport, although that varies depending on the fisherman and his chosen water.

For me, and I can’t help but wonder if this feeling motivates others, fishing is about separation. On a boat 15 miles off the coast, or in the surf being hit by waves while heaving bucktails, we are in a very real sense removed. We are removed from daily tasks, obligation and anxiety. How possibly worried can you be about a landlocked problem when the coast is only a shadow off the bow?

While this motivation hasn’t been there my whole life (certainly I was more about bragging and accomplishment than anything before adulthood set in) it’s one I find myself coming back to more often now as an adult.

With the Atlantic crashing against your ankles in the surf, or the deep hum of the outboard pulling you afraid from land, it’s almost impossible to dwell on those dry, pesky problems that find us at desks, in our cars or even in bed.

Fishing for me, for the last ten years at least, has been a blissful escape from any and all anxiety that you find yourself facing without a rod in your hand.

And certainly cancer is far from the only thing that can kill us. Worry, doubt and fear are as dangerous as anything you’ll see on an X-ray. And in that way, maybe fishing, in many respects, is the cure.