“As long as I’m with you I’m not lost”

Lonesome Road by Cory Voglesonger

Years ago as my grandparents were driving through the mountains of North Georgia, my grandfather at the wheel and my grandmother at his side, my grandfather made a series of wrong turns before he realized he was lost. After trying several different routes he was not only unable to determine where they were headed, but he was eventually unable to get back to where they had been.

After all attempts had been exhausted he turned and said, “We’re lost.” My grandmother replied, “I’m not lost.” “What do you mean you’re not lost?” he asked. She said, “As long as I’m with you I’m not lost.”

The recognition that being together means never being lost is a profound truth. It was a characteristic of their marriage of over sixty years.  Location didn’t matter. Time didn’t matter. Being together, side by side, patient with each other, and knowing that those we travel with are far more important than when or how we reach our destination was what mattered.

After making a few course corrections they eventually found their way back to familiar roads. Throughout the rest of their lives together they continued to travel across the back roads of Georgia with their children, grandchildren, and other family members, occasionally getting turned around but never lost.  Their travels are a metaphor for their life together.

Are we truly lost when those who matter to us most are close by? My grandmother didn’t think so. Her nine little words, “As long as I’m with you I’m not lost”, speak volumes. They are also a reminder that kind words, spoken well, can last forever.

Remember the Telephone?

Remember that great work place tool called the telephone? You know, that thing with the the handle and buttons you speak into? Email is a wonderful tool and Instant Messaging (IM) is also a nice way to communicate, yet there is something about actually speaking directly to another person that is often superior.

Yes, IM can be a great way to “multi-task” when you are on an endless conference call. Email is wonderful for documenting expectations and commitments as well as sharing data.

Still, how many times have you found yourself responding to a question via Email or IM that you could have answered over the phone in a fraction of the time you spent typing, waiting for a reply, typing, waiting, etc?

Never forget the speed and clarity of personal voice.

“The Official Sponsor of Birthdays”

morebirthdays_blogbadge3The American Cancer Society has branded its self, in part, as “The Official Sponsor of Birthdays.”  Here at the National Home Office in Atlanta, Georgia we’ve known this was coming since December 2008 and many of us have anxiously awaited this launch with sealed lips. A new website, morebirthdays.com, went live yesterday and a few new ads were uploaded to YouTube.


So what is all of this about? For some people birthdays are a struggle. I have a family member who has been celebrating her 39th birthday for at least 15 years. Despite the challenges of aging, as we morph into something far different than a twenty year old body, I hope we can all agree that birthdays are a good thing. A very good thing. A birthday means you’re here. This may appear trivial, it’s no revelation, and I’m not saying anything new. What is important to know is that there is an organization that exists to ensure that you and I and everyone else continue to live healthily lives year after year.


Our vision is a world free of cancer. I’ve never worked for an organization that is as focused and driven to fulfill its mission than the American Cancer Society. From the epidemiologist here in Atlanta to our National Cancer Information Center in Austin, Texas the commitment to help people stay well and get well, by finding cures and fighting back is at the heart of everything we do. The same can be said for the volunteers and employees I’ve worked with across the nation. Their commitment is tangible.


I have found no other organization with the resources, knowledge, and skill that can compare to the American Cancer Society in this field of work. As a fully entrenched social networker I’ve been please to see that the Society has kept up with the new media of a web 2.0 world.  We’ve integrated ourselves with Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube, and Second Life and we will continue to reach out where ever people are to share our resources and our message of hope.


Our sister organization The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) in Washington, D.C. has been successful working with lawmakers to fight against Big Tobacco in the United States. It was no coincidence that in his February 24, 2009 address to Congress President Obama called for health care reform to include a “new effort to conquer a disease that has touched the life of nearly every American by seeking a cure for cancer in our time” (April is National Cancer Control Month, by the way).


Nor is it a coincidence that a Bill was passed by the US House of Representatives granting the “Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authority to regulate the manufacturing, marketing and sale of tobacco products”. These things don’t happen without the voice and support of the people, and many organizations are coming together to ensure that our voice, your voice, is heard.


Living a life free of cancer is something for everyone to celebrate. Eleven million cancer survivors are celebrating birthdays because of our progress. Countless others have avoided cancer for the same reasons. As the old saying goes “knowledge is power.” Knowing how to get well and stay well is priceless.


So… Now that my lunch hour is coming to an end, it’s time for me to get back to work.

Matthewrlee.com: Expanding My Online Identity.

Two days ago I purchased the rights to three domain names: matthewrlee.com, matthewrlee.org, and matthewrlee.net. Currently they point to this blog.


Any content related to these three URLs prior to 08/26/08 belonged to someone else. For next decade anyone who visits these sites will find, me.


To all the other Matthew Lees, Matthew R. Lees, and yes even Matthew Russell Lees out there, I have an interest in your name. We have a shared identity. As I work to separate my identity from yours, I wish you all the best in defining your own virtual persona.

Cancer Prevention Study-3 (CPS-3)

Last night one of my sons asked me if we, the American Cancer Society, have a cure for cancer. I told him no, there is no all-encompassing cure for cancer. There are effective treatments and prevention methods but no “cure” in the sense he intended.


We’ve had several conversations over the past few weeks about the purpose of suffering and why so many seem to suffer without answers. What he was really asking is why do bad things happen to good people and who decides.


This weekend I’m taking him to Relay For Life, one of the American Cancer Society’s flagship events. I hope he will gain a wider perspective on suffering, hope, and the importance of perseverance. To see how powerful it is to give to those we don’t know, simply because we can.


I’ll also participate in the Cancer Prevention Study-3 (CPS-3). If you’re over 30 and under 65, have never had cancer, and are willing to fill out an annual survey for the next twenty years, I encourage you to come and participate in the study. There are several Relay For Life events across Georgia but this year the CPS-3 is only offered at Adams Stadium.


The data collected will be used to track life style, ethnicity, gender, and other factors against cancer rates in the 500,000 project volunteers.


If you want to give back in a personal yet private way, come to the Relay For Life at Adams Stadium  this Friday, 05/16/08, between 6:30 PM and 10:30 PM fill out a few forms, give a blood sample, and make a difference. What else could you be doing of greater importance this Friday night? It’s free.


Adams Stadium

2383 N. Druid Hills Rd

Atlanta, GA 30329


Enrollment Hours 6:30pm – 10:30pm


For more information on CPS-3, or enroll in the study in your area, go to cancer.org/cps3.


Do We Know Enough?

 Collective

Today, as I look across Atlanta from my desk, my thoughts are drawn to the challenges of life. When I consider the thousands of people within my view on the downtown connector, in office buildings, and on the streets I’m led to ask this question; do we know enough? Do we know enough collectively to solve the big problems. Problems like violence, dishonesty, and apathy.

I’m optimistic. I believe we know enough to end dishonesty and violence in all their malignant forms. The question is; do we want them to end?

Here is one example. Are the millions who say they would never steal or kill willing to give up the rush of violence by proxy? It seems to be a great contradiction to praise peace while conditioning the heart and mind to enjoy brutality via the entertainment industry. If digital thieves and assassins are the heroes, who are we?

Of the thousands of people in my view every day, how many are suffering right now because the rest of us are slightly off course? Is our fast paced proxy culture distracting us from fulfilling our human design?

Are we willing to examine our collective appetite and make personal changes?

I’m not suggesting more laws or regulations. I’m suggesting we stop and ask ourselves if we know enough to make more of a difference with our time and our talents, than we’re making today.

We are each endowed with the right to self regulate. What will be our social foot print?

Physics and Matchbox Cars

In the late 1970’s my father taught physics at Emory University. Occasionally he would take me to work with him on Saturday mornings and while he worked in his office, I would play with the physics department’s matchbox cars and race tracks. As a kindergartener I was amazed that they used toys to teach to college students. I was thrilled the first time my Dad opened a closet in one of the class rooms and I saw more bendable track and connecter pieces than I could have imagined. How could this possibly be used to teach science I thought? Surely they must be used for recess or an ‘after school’ program. Then my Dad explained it to me.

The cars and tracks were used to demonstrate the effects of what he called “G force”. If a car moved fast enough it would stay on the upside down looping track. If not it would fall off. The G forces kept the car on the track. The department bought enough track so each student could participate in the experiments. It took almost as long for you to read the last three lines as it did for him to explain the whole thing, and I got it. The term G force was new to me but I knew exactly what he was talking about. G forces were what made the difference between a good track and a great track. Now that “greatness” had a name and I told all my friends about G forces and the unbelievable amount of track they had in a physics room closet at Emory.

That was my first lesson in the power of creative teaching. Making connections between objects that came from completely different worlds, so clearly, that they tell the story themselves and the learner truly gets it and retains it.

The LN2 tank in the basement was fun too but that’s another story.