Appreciate the sunflower for what it is — beautiful and majestic — but also for what it represents: life.
I was looking at seeds to plant for Earth Day on April 21. There's a wonderful selection of heirloom seeds available for $2.50 a packet at the Post Office in Larkspur's Marin Country Mart all week.
When I saw the Sunflower Lemon Queen packet, I thought, "What could be better for Earth Day than a flower that means so many things: Spring renewal, warmth, happiness and life?"
It also has a special meaning for members of the Caring for Carcinoid Foundation Sunflower Squad.
The Sunflower Squad seemed simple, almost a child's delight, at first. The message it spreads with the Caring for Carcinoid Foundation is pretty simple: Where there is life, there is hope. Where there is love, there is strength.
The organization's website states: "The sunflower's appearance reminds us of power, warmth, nourishment, and longevity. The flower symbolizes constancy as it turns to follow the sun. The CFCF, though it is only one foundation, is comprised of individuals who are united in support of one another. We gain nourishment via information. We help patients realized their hopes of longevity. The sunflower symbol reminds us of the many individuals who dedicate themselves to discovering a cure for neuroendocrine tumors. Together we are powerful."
I discovered how powerful and supportive groups like CFCF can be after I started my recovery from surgery to remove a large carcinoid tumor in 2010. I wanted to learn from other patients what I was facing. What I learned is, as bad as cancer is, none of us have to go through it alone.
I've attended CFCF runs and walks and seen folks carrying sunflowers in memory and in support of loved ones diagnosed with neuroendocrine cancers. We got to know each other well. Last year, I met Sharon, who has grown sunflowers in her garden for the past 20 years just because she's loved them ever since she was a little girl. Now she has a different appreciation for the blooms, which she shares with friends, since her longtime friend was diagnosed with cancer.
If you see me around town wearing a blue shirt with a sunflower on it, say hi and let's share some time and stories.
I plan to attend the MCM farmers market on Saturday, April 21, from 9 a.m to 2 p.m., where I'll help anyone who wants to develop a green thumb plant sunflower seeds, herbs and vegetables.
I came across this anonymous poem, supposedly pre-Columbian, over the weekend:
Aztec Flower Song
Be indomitable, Oh my heart!
Love only the sunflower;
It is the flower of the Giver-of-Life!
What can my heart do?
Have we come, have we sojourned here on earth in vain?
As the flowers wither, I shall go.
Will there be nothing of my glory ever?
Will there be nothing of my fame on earth?
At most songs, at most flowers,
What can my heart do?
Have we come, have we sojourned on earth in vain?
No, not in vain. As long as we fight, we will survive.
For more information on cancer and carcinoid cancer, consider these sites: