My Corner, Your Corner: It takes a lot self-awareness to be selfless

My Corner, Your Corner - Tony Callaio | September 4th, 2015 1:36 pm

Did you hear it last week? I heard it twice, once on Monday and once on Wednesday.

What I heard was a collective, “Ahhhhh” from parents on both sides of the Susquehanna River as both school districts returned to school for the 2015-2016 year.

Granted, not all parents are happy their little ones are in school, especially those with children entering pre-school or kindergarten, but for the veterans out there, it may have been a long summer and the break is welcomed.

I saw a whole bunch of parents on the first day of school at breakfast sans children and it’s almost like a tradition for many.

It’s not easy being a parent and it’s an unforgiving job. The responsibilities are immense and summers can be crazy with everything like sleepovers, vacations, sports, boyfriend/girlfriend break-ups, scratches, scrapes, bruises, etc.

I take my hat off to friends of mine, Ann and Mark. The parents of a single child who just entered her senior year of college decided to do something bold, courageous and incredibly unselfish. They decided to foster Ann’s niece.

Over the last three years, Ann and Mark have been empty-nesters and it’s a position that many parents wait for and even dream about – the day when parental independence is realized.

Fostering a child is a challenge to say the least, but to make a decision to take in a child is admirable. It’s a life of constant care and worry. There is not much financial gain involved, but there is plenty of love, accomplishment, and satisfaction in making a difference in someone’s life.

So as the Australians would say, “Good on you,” Ann and Mark for stepping up and putting selfishness aside and standing behind principle.

Nine years, no cancer

On Tuesday, I will celebrate nine years cancer free and I cherish every moment I have had in that time. It’s been a humbling experience. For those of you who never had the disease, you never want to hear the words, “You have cancer.”

I don’t care how curable a type of cancer may be; there isn’t one doctor that will declare a person cancer-free. I still get tested twice a year to make sure my cancer has not returned and each time I go to the doctor for my result, I hold my breath and get a bit anxious.

Instead of the doctor telling me I’m free from cancer, I get, “Congratulations.” For as much as I want to believe the cancer will never return, I have to be a realist and know there’s always a chance it could. I know I get congratulated because I made it through another six months of life without reoccurrence.

My late friend Sammy Agolino always said, whether he was in remission or not, it always felt like there was a noose over his head. Cancer survivors don’t necessarily want to talk about their diagnosis unless they have to. Some become advocates, like Barbara Sciandra, and their life is dedicated to defeating the disease that could have killed them. It’s like taking the devil head-on at 100 mph.

When I was diagnosed, I chose to talk about it, and I wrote about it in this very column all those years ago. I wanted to be proactive and I never felt like I wanted to hide because of my disease.

I’ll never forget receiving a call from Angela Stella, a registered nurse, who told me that I was doing the right thing by speaking up about cancer. She went on to tell me that she received a phone call from a male patient that wanted to get blood tested for cancer. She told me that he read my column and wanted to make sure he was healthy.

Angela, who tragically passed away from cancer herself, told me, “If you can save one life, then you did your job.” I’ll never forget Angela or her words.

So men, especially those who are 50 years old and over, should get a PSA blood test. If doctors can treat prostate cancer early enough, patients just might have a chance for many more years ahead of them.

Quote of the week

“Love is rarer than genius itself. And friendship is rarer than love.” – Charles Peguy, French poet.

Thought of the week

“One must live the way one thinks or end up thinking the way one has lived.” – P. Bourget, French novelist.

Bumper sticker

“Women like silent men. They think they are listening.” – Marcel Achard, French playwright.

My Corner, Your Corner

Tony Callaio

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