The first Friday of October (set your calendars and plan your west coast adventure now) is slated for Sutter Medical Foundation’s very own “Catwalk for a Cure” and I can tell you from this new experience – this is a day, outside under the big white tent at the Wells Fargo Civic Center in Santa Rosa that you will never forget. So many people to thank. I provided a few of you with the “advance copy” of my speech, and now, here for the first time on this medium are the cue cards for that time on the “catwalk”.
Card #1: “Paul Brunetta everyone … thank you Paul for your continued support with Sutter’s Catwalk for a Cure. You continue to amaze me. Though I will caution you my friend, take a good look at yourself today … continue to do your pushups and sit-ups as this (pointing to myself) is what you may end up looking like 20 years from now!
Card #2: Good afternoon! My name is Paul and as Paul (Version One) has inferred, I do love the Boston Red Sox – because you see I am a born optimist. I mean, who in their right mind continues to support a team 20 something games out of 1st place? My birth certificate, like those of all Massachusetts natives, has the logos of the four sports teams imprinted on the corner, you know, the Bruins, Patriots, Red Sox and Celtics. I’m joking of course. My wife Bonnie and I are both optimists by birth and it is that self-belief which provides me the opportunity to meet people like Paul and the other men who attend the cancer support group created by Sutter’s own Cindi Cantril
Card #3: Cindi has been reading the blog I started when my wife Bonnie and I were first diagnosed with Stage 2 breast cancer. The reason I started this blog was to keep friends and family on the east coast aware of the events associated with her diagnosis and ultimately her achievements. This blog wound up being the therapy I needed … and while the residents of 28 other nations and all 50 states of this great country of ours maintained their readership … Cindi’s vision for Sonoma County was once again put on display.
Card #4: She simply tapped me on the shoulder one afternoon and asked me to facilitate a men’s support group for those seeking a way to help navigate the unknown in front of them and their partners. I was not going to be the first man on the planet to say NO to Cindi so here I stand. Seven months later this group identifies itself as “Finding Inner Strength Together” or “FIST”. Cindi – thank you for creating this group. Without your vision I’d have never met Paul or you beautiful people here today.
Card #5: I reside in Petaluma with my wife Bonnie and our two daughters; Taylor, a senior at the University of South Carolina; and Logan, a senior at Petaluma High School. My wife Bonnie and I met at a high school dance in 1977. I kid her now by saying that’s the night she stuffed her phone number into my pocket. [GET DOWN ON ONE KNEE] … Fast forward eleven years and a half-million miles later … I returned home from Alaska, and on Christmas Eve, 1987, got down on one knee and asked for her hand in marriage.
Card #6: How breast cancer has affected me can be summed up in one word: “WHY”. Bonnie and I had been married twenty-three years when the words “Stage 2 Breast Cancer” knocked on our door; and I cannot ever recall my bride asking or using the word “WHY”, as in “Why me?” or “Why not her?” or any other combination of this adverb.
Card #7: When your conversation begins with the word “WHY” there’s a general requirement for the listener to provide an answer. Since Bonnie never asked the question – I, our children, nor any member of her impressive global network were ever forced to provide her with a plausible explanation as to the reason breast cancer invaded her system.
Card #8: Cancer knocked – we answered – and today we stand here as SURVIVORS. Yes, I said “WE”. Bonnie’s inner strength was immediately recognized by her surgeon; Dr. Laura Norton who told Bonnie she shows all the signs of going the distance. Going the distance is something we all strive for; though when the “C” word is a regular part of your vocabulary, the will to press on can easily diminish. This was not the case with my wife, and I am extremely thankful to have one strong and beautiful to walk beside me and our children each and every day.
Card #9: All of us have this inner strength, and the moment you meet her it will be immediately recognized. We celebrated our 24th wedding anniversary the other day and I have a notion, perhaps some insider information as to where this exceptional character trait of hers comes from. Sometimes it just takes two. Because no one, I mean no one, should ever have to go through breast cancer alone.
Card #10: I would very much like to think my wife is a breast cancer survivor because I am a loving husband, thought nothing could be further from the truth. My wife is a breast cancer survivor because of her own inner strength.
Card #11: I will leave you today with some food for thought … TRUST your INTUITION in every step you take along this journey. If something doesn’t feel right with your ONCOLOGIST? – TRUST IT. Primary Care Physician? – TRUST IT! The NAYSAYERS? – TRUST IT. TRUST YOURSELF … TRUST YOUR PARTNER. There’s truly something magical about beating CANCER together.
Final Card: We know we’re going the distance, and we’ll be doing it together. [Bonnie, can you please stand?] Thank you sharing your inner strength with all of us. I love you … and by the way … thank you for your phone number.
Whew!! “I need a beer!!”
A great special thanks for cousins Cindy and Giovanna for making the trip up – we greatly loved your company and support!!