Monday, August 18, 2008

Renewal of Life and Light: A Single Light and Out of the Darkness

I recently committed to support and contribute to two non-profit organizations.

The first is A Single Light. I wish to aid them provide clear information and referrals to various services for people affected by cancer. Nathaniel Montgomery is a leader, a passionate personality and driving force behind this non-profit. There may be some way Flowers in the Cracks can aid in art therapy for cancer victims. We'll have to talk about this in a future gathering. Or leave your comments about how our themes may help support each other.

The second is the Out of the Darkness community walk at Crissy Field in San Francisco on September 27, 2008. This walk is in support of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP). My goal is to get $1000 in donations, to match what I raised for the 2006 Overnight. I have already garnered $200. In fact, I want to blow that goal away. Please contribute what you can to show your commitments for this cause.

Both of these charities poetically adapt the terms of light and darkness to represent hope and hopelessness in the face of life-threatening challenges. Both require significant personal commitment to overcome. To submit to and endure the necessary cancer treatments and possibly invasive operations, or to summon the day-to-day courage and desire to affirm one's will to live. The risks to survival are not a mere poetic figure of speech. Each failure or setback in cancer or suicide prevention or treatment results in a myriad of suffering: near-death traumatic experiences, chronic suffering, possible lifelong crippling, or a fatality.

Some Statistics

• The Center for Disease Control (CDC) estimates 1.34 million people were diagnosed with cancer in 2004; these people joined an estimated 11.1 million Americans who are living with a previous diagnosis of cancer.

• The 2008 SEER report estimates a 40.35% lifetime risk chance of being diagnosed with cancer

• In the same SEER report, cancer causes an annual death rate of 189.8 per 100,000, and has a 5-year survival rate of 65.3%.

• A 2007 CBS study of 45 states who provided data disclosed 6,256 military veterans had committed suicide in 2005; moreover, veterans suffer a suicide rate double that of the general population (estimated between 22.9 to 31.9 per 100,000, vs. 8.3 per 100,000 for the general population).

• In 2007 active duty US Army deaths due to suicides (115 lives lost) were the highest rate ever recorded since the Army began tracking in 1980.

• A 2007 report by the National Police Suicide Foundation determined that on average per year, 450 police officers commit suicide annually; three times the average of 150 deaths in the line of duty.

• In 2007, there were an estimated 1,100 murder-suicides, according to the Violence Policy Center. This includes the proverbial “going postal” violent deaths in the workplace, the Columbine-style massacres in our schools and colleges, and the shocking shootings on our buses or in our places of worship. Yet even for all the sensational press coverage, true and grim statistics show 75% of such deaths occur in the home.

Hopefully we can shed more light on these serious incidents of suffering in our community. This year I had a friend commit suicide because of a confluence of medical and financial problems all compounded. I will tell you more about Terry in the future. For now, just know that I have lost someone personally to suicide this year. Likewise, I know someone who survived cancer in recent years, a pair of friends at church whose wives are undergoing treatment, another person who had a “false positive” test result for cancer, and possibly countless others whom I acquainted with who suffer in quiet and modest stoicism.

If they are ill, and I am healthy, I will walk for them. If you are busy, and I am free, donate to my walk. This is part of my commitment for Flowers in the Cracks, and that spirit of renewal and healing in the world.

My prayers and best wishes to anyone affected by these weighty health and mental well-being issues. If anyone ever needs to call to talk about these issues, or what Flowers in the Cracks can do to help ameliorate or alleviate suffering, I am at 650-906-3134, or email petercorless{at}

Good morning to you all,

-Peter Corless.
650-906-3134 (mobile)

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