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More ways to stand with Cookie and help fight cancer

Do more than cheer for Carlos Carrasco

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MLB: All Star Game-National League at American League Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

From the beginning, when Carlos Carrasco’s ailment was still unnamed in the public, the pitcher maintained he would pitch again — this season. Now, we’re just a few days away from Cookie’s return to major league action, and it is such a blessing.

No matter what your belief, Carrasco’s return is a blessing. Thousands upon thousands of fans were praying to their God or thinking positive thoughts and, combined with Cookie’s indomitable attitude and a favorable diagnosis, now he’s on the verge of the remarkable. Watching his return to the mound in a Tribe uniform is going to be an amazing moment for baseball fans of all stripes, because no one faces cancer alone.

Cancer, and leukemia in particular, is something that I have a very close personal connection with, but that hardly makes me unique. According to cancer.gov, approximately 38.4% of men and women will be diagnosed with cancer at some point during their lifetimes (based on 2013–2015 data). And while that is a very depressing statistic, in 2016 there were an estimated 15.5 million cancer survivors in the United States, and that number is expected to increase to 20.3 million by 2026.

The efforts of the medical community to stop cancer and extend lives have come a long way, and Carrasco is living (thankfully) proof. Less than 20 years ago, he almost certainly would not have returned to pitching so quickly and may not have returned at all. This effort is not done among doctors and scientists alone, however: it’s a reality because of a group effort, among all humans, to make things better. And that’s an effort we can all be a part of.

One way you can help those with cancer that costs no money whatsoever, is to sign up for Be The Match. For more than 30 years, Be The Match (rated 3 stars by Charity Navigator) has managed a registry and helped link patients with blood cancers, such as leukemia, with compatible bone marrow donors. Their role in saving the lives of blood cancer patients can’t be understated, as 70% of all patients who need a transplant don’t have a fully matched donor in their family. Initial sign-up requires only providing information and a cheek swab, and donor matching is improving all the time.

If events are your kind of thing, consider joining a Relay for Life event near you. The Relay for Life is an annual event, held at locations around the country, as a fundraiser for the American Cancer Society (rated 3 stars by Charity Navigator). Started in 1986, the Relay has funded more than $410 million of cancer research grants as of Aug. 2018 and provided more than 452,000 nights of lodging for patients and their families in 2017. Taking part in a Relay for Life can mean volunteering time, donating money, or starting a fundraising team.

For those with means, monetary donations can also have an incredible impact. Below are a list of excellent cancer charities to donate to, though the list is hardly exhaustive. I’d encourage anyone interested to seek out local charities as well and consider donating time or money as you are able.

Finally, if you want to stand with Cookie and let everyone know it, you can purchase the Homage “I Stand With Cookie” t-shirt, proceeds of which benefit Cleveland Clinic Children’s.