I had no idea Melissa Etheridge was in the house until I looked up from my usual pre-National Anthem musings “Stand still respectfully, or try to grab a quick pic?” and saw her standing on Lambeau Field.
“Hey,” I said to my sister and Lambeau seat mate Kathy. “Is that Melissa Etheridge?”
She sang an excellent anthem and, during her halftime performance, I thought about what a perfect metaphor Etheridge’s performance was for the disease she beat.
October is breast cancer awareness month and the Packers recognized that Monday night with their Packers vs. Cancer campaign, which raises funds for research and cancer care through an association with Bellin Health and the Vince Lombardi Cancer Foundation.
Linebacker Blake Martinez is the spokesperson for the season-long effort that involves education and support.
Etheridge, who has been a breast cancer survivor since 2005, seemed perfectly comfortable as she took the field at halftime on an unseasonably cold October Monday in Green Bay. A Packer strap held up her guitar and a Packer hat covered her head, leaving no question as to her allegiance (at least that night).
The crowd of 77,642 cheered her on, but she stood there all alone, belting out a medley of her hits.
And, that’s the truth about cancer too, isn’t it? We can cheer them on — raise funds, bake casseroles, send cards and flowers, hold hands, share jokes, hug and pray. But the real cancer fighters do it alone, by dragging their exhausted selves out of bed in the morning, remembering to take their daily meds, monitoring and rising above the side effects, submitting to and recovering from surgeries and rehabilitation efforts, working hard to maintain their daily lives, and getting up every morning to do it all again.
I really appreciate Melissa Etheridge’s efforts to come all the way to the frozen tundra to sing a few songs in what has to be one of the coldest concert venues she’s played. I salute her and every other cancer fighter (including my friends Trina and Karen, who fought as hard as they could and, in their battle, provided critical research for the advancement of cancer treatment).
And, I’m grateful every day for the increasingly sophisticated treatments available to people like my sister Kathy, who has been a fierce cancer fighter for the past five years.
Go Pack Go!