Legacy \ˈleɡəsi\ n 1: a situation that exists now because of events, actions, etc. that took place in the past 2: something that has come from a predecessor
Last weekend, in Alexandria, Va., I had lunch with two good friends, David Olive and Rich Cooper. There was an empty seat at the table, reserved for our late friend, Chris Battle, who fought bravely against kidney cancer.
Before Chris died, the four of us were a force to behold. I jokingly called Chris, David and Rich the Three Musketeers, with me as D’Artagnan, all heroes in Alexandre Dumas’ famous novel. We were writers, pens mightier than swords, working together in strategic communications.
Three years later, with Chris departed, David, Rich and I sat eating cheeseburgers and talking about KCCure. I told the musketeers, “If Chris were here, he would be running communications for KCCure. There is a real poetry in being able to do for my friend what he would otherwise be doing himself.”
David said: “That, my friend, is the very definition of legacy.”
Soon after Chris died in 2013, I published an article about him on a blog he and I ran together. I wrote:
“There are legions of communicators throughout the country who worked with Chris and learned from him. We all carry some of Chris’ brilliance, and he is a part of what we do. When we in turn teach and influence others, the presence of Chris’ example and style compounds. Because of that, Chris yet lives.”
KCCure is a part of that living. I can see Chris’ legacy in everything. His widow, Dena, is the president of KCCure, and his oncologist, Dr. Hans Hammers, is the vice president. Our website and outreach are all done according to standards Chris set nearly a decade ago (when he and I first started working together). Many of the people who are helping spread the word about KCCure were Chris’ friends and colleagues.
But it’s not just Chris’ legacy I see in KCCure. It’s also Frank Corrigan, a man I never knew and of whom I had never heard until a donation was made in his memory. And it’s Janet Plantin, another warrior gone on before whose smiling face is on the KCCure Tribute page. There are thousands more legacies around the world, and we are all coming together in a powerful movement whose enormity overwhelms me.
You’re part of it too, reader. Maybe you were Chris’ friend or knew him through Kidney Cancer Chronicles, where he wrote about his fight against kidney cancer. Maybe you knew Janet through her CaringBridge page or had a beer with Frank during a fondly remembered outing. Maybe you are meeting these people for the first time right now. No matter how they came into your life, you are also a part of theirs.
So what are we going to do with this powerful presence that echoes unending? We’re going to leave a legacy: a cure for kidney cancer.
You and I are going to cure it. So are Dena and Hans and our other KCCure board members. And all the people who have written to us to show their support, all the generous individuals and families who have donated to this mission, all the people who are contributing in ways big and small—we are all going to cure this disease. Chris, Frank, Janet and others are going to cure it too.
All for one and one for all, as the musketeers informed us. Join our movement, donate to fund kidney cancer research, and help us leave a legacy our descendants will be proud to carry.