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The Californian

Californian contributing columnist Steve Flores.

Psycological scotoma. These will be the two biggest words I will ever use in my column.

Please stay with me.

The general medical definition of "scotoma" is a blind spot or dark area in the center of your field of vision surrounded by normal vision.

An example of a metaphorical or psychological scotoma can be one where you buy a red SUV thinking you have the only one in Kern County. After you buy what you think is a unique car color and model, you begin to see red SUVs on every street corner.

The red SUVs were always there. You just had no reason to look for or see them until you bought one. That's what some people much smarter than I call a psychological scotoma.

When the darkness of cancer invaded my family, we first thought we were alone on an island of despair, isolation and hopelessness. We quickly learned we had been surrounded by the disease all along. To our astonishment, in our circle of friends and family, we know of absolutely no one who hadn't been touched by cancer. Was it always there? Yes. Psychological scotoma at work.

The sadness of learning how prevalent cancer is turned to an inimitable opportunity to bond with and learn from families whose journey seemed at one point unique in scope and magnitude to only them.

This weekend, many of us will gather in a celebration of hope and optimism as we give voice to those who have been taken from us and to those who continue the battle against this horrible disease. The Kern County Cancer Fund's first-ever "Campout Against Cancer" will be held April 4 and 5 at the State Farm Sports Village at Ashe and Panama roads. Admission is free.

The purpose of this fundraiser is to provide financial support to help fill the gap with medical expenses for Kern County residents affected in their fight against cancer. The emotional devastation cancer brings can also carry a financial weight too heavy for many families.

It matters not where you receive your cancer treatment or services. Kern County residency of the cancer patient is the only requirement to be considered for financial support. All monies raised at the "Campout Against Cancer" event stay right here in Kern County. I make a motion to have the Kern County Cancer Fund renamed to the Kern County "Community" Cancer Fund. Just saying.

My "Wavehog" camping family will be out there in full force ready to challenge all other teams in the fun games event planners have organized. Special events will also be held for cancer survivors. There will be live music, entertainment and lots of peace, love and positive karma answering the question, "Must one have a reason to help those in need?"

"Campout Against Cancer" is one of many events held in Kern County to help families affected by cancer. The American Cancer Society's "Relay for Life" is an essential fundraiser designed for much needed research and development in our communal fight against the disease. Many birthdays have been celebrated because of their tireless efforts in combating cancer.

We are lucky to have both in our community, each in its own way helping families affected by cancer.

I pray and hope you, your family or friends will never experience cancer. To help those families who have, please join my "Wavehogs" and many other teams, people and organizations at the numerous events that showcase Kern County's communal DNA of helping those sadly affected by cancer and its financial devastation.

And to all the 40-plus teams showing up this weekend at "Camping Out Against Cancer," the Wavehogs are coming and ready to play. So be prepared.

See you on the playing field, which we know will be filled with fun and friendly competition mixed in with the love and compassion of helping others for which Kern County is proudly known.

-- Steve Flores is a contributing columnist for The Californian. These are his opinions, not necessarily those of The Californian. Email him at