“Inch by inch, play by play. Until we’re finished. We’re in hell right now, gentlemen. Believe me. And, we can stay here, get the shit kicked out of us, or we can fight our way back into the light. We can climb outta hell… one inch at a time.”
– Tony D’Amato Any Given Sunday
I woke up in the middle of the night recently thinking, “It’s a game of inches,” ….. that’s part of a speech that Al Pachino’s character (Tony D’Amato) gives in the football movie ‘Any Given Sunday.’ The speech most likely came to mind because I had been to a high school football game earlier that evening. Regardless of why those words came to mind…. The phrase kept rolling around in my head until a light in my mind went off. It occurred to me that this advocacy thing is a game of inches too.
The high school game I attended was not an offensive blowout with lots of deep passes, exciting runs and thrilling trick plays. It was a tight match, where every yard mattered and each gain was matched by a stop or even a loss. It was a grind but everyone kept at it. The players, the coaches and even the fans did their part.
It’s just like that with advocacy work. Every day I do something related to advocacy. I read articles so I can update our website and stay abreast of the latest news. I talk to women with this disease so I can offer support. I learn about the trends in the treatments being offered so I can speak to members of the medical community with authority on behalf of the others with this disease. I send emails to researchers and doctors. I’ve created proposals for professional groups. I’ve attended training and conferences. I’ve worked on the logistics for a non-profit. I’ve mentored other women with breast cancer in my community. Everyday I do something, even if it’s just an email correspondence or reading an article, I grind it out. I have a goal and the only way to get to a goal is to do the work.
Sometimes it feels like weeks go by and nothing much is happening except I’m doing those little things. I wonder if we’ll ever make a dent in the problems we face or if we will ever reach the goal of having a standard of care created just for women with metaplastic breast cancer. I feel my energy wane. Is it third or fourth down? Have we gained any yardage? Where is the ball now?
And then, I’ll get an email response. I’ll find a doctor willing to answer questions. A mentoring or advocate application will be accepted. A conference I can attend will be set. I’ll make a connection with another group or find just the right person to help with forming the non-profit. There will be the opportunity for some funding. Like-minded women will offer support, the team will get larger and be more skilled. I’ll look over at the marker and it will say first down. I can see the end zone is a long way off but with each new connection I know we are moving the pile.
It’s not a win yet, it’s not even a score right now. It’s just an inch – the smallest push forward. So, it’s back to the huddle, to call the next play. And we’ll keep wracking up those inches until we reach that goal.
“The inches we need are everywhere around us. They’re in every break of the game, every minute, every second. On this team we fight for that inch. On this team we tear ourselves and everyone else around us to pieces for that inch.”