starfish pin

"There are thousands of starfish on this beach... Nothing you can do can possibly make a difference.”

From the Editor's Desk

Choose Your Words Carefully

October is a month of awareness

Welcome to October.

In this edition, you are going to see the faces of fall submitted by our readers, visit a vintage shop, take a pottery class, pair wine with candy, make soup, take a nature walk and discover Native American pointing trees.

In this issue you are not only going to be moved by personal accounts of survival and continued recovery, but touched by the stories of two women whose lives ended way too soon for two different reasons but yet they continue to make a difference.

My parents always told me to “be careful how you throw the word hate around because once you say it, it's not a word you can easily take back.”

As a writer and an editor, I usually choose my words carefully.

And so, when I reserve the word “hate” to describe the way I personally feel about something, you can believe I mean it.

And I hate cancer. I wish there was a stronger word invented for it. Abhor, loathe and detest aren’t even adequate descriptors.

As some of you may know, my sister, Teri died from cancer at the age of 34 in 2006. And my Dad died from cancer ten years later in 2016.

When Dad found out he had a progressive form of lung cancer, he asked to go to the Cancer Treatment Centers of Philadelphia. His local oncologist even helped make those arrangements. I am sure she knew my father would get the same news there that she had given him.

My Mom and I took Dad. And the hospital assigned a patient advocate to us – these are people who stay with you while in the hospital and answers every question when you are not. And on this kind woman’s jacket were two things – one was a gold pin in the image of a starfish and the other was a button. I am going to tell you about the starfish pin in a moment but I want to first tell you about the button.

The message written on it has also stayed with me nearly five years later.

“Fight Like a Girl.”

I have wanted to incorporate it onto a magazine cover ever since. This year was the perfect time because I think I finally understand the message behind it. And I hope you will too.

As for the starfish pin? Every employee who works at the CTC wears one and every patient who comes through the door is given one and also gifted the story that explains why the starfish is this facility’s official symbol.

“While walking along a beach after a particularly high tide, a man noticed a boy picking up starfish after starfish and throwing them back into the sea. When he neared the youngster, he asked, ‘What are you doing?’”

“These starfish will die if they don’t get back into the water,” the boy replied as he hurriedly continued his work.

“But there are thousands of starfish on this beach,” the man said. “'Nothing you can do can possibly make a difference.”

The boy held out the starfish he had just picked up and then he tossed it into the ocean. “It made a difference to that one,” he said.

Shane Riggs

Managing Editor

Allegany Magazine

October 2020 

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