Cancer. When people hear the word, people are angry that a disease can be so cruel and unpredictable. Some may raise their heads high because they fought the battle and won. Others may be sad or mourning the loss of a close friend or loved one that has lost the fight of this disgusting disease. The most common connotation is that it is an evil word. Millions of individuals are diagnosed with cancer each year and a million more family members and friends are affected. At some point in our lives, someone we know will be diagnosed with cancer
My first memory of someone being diagnosed with cancer was my mom's childhood friend. They were in the same classes in elementary school, they were in each other's weddings, they were there when their children were born. They grew up together. She was diagnosed with an aggressive form of breast cancer. She fought a long, hard fight until she lost that battle. I saw my mom go through the heartbreak that cancer causes people. I saw the pain she and so many other friends and family members had to cope with during this tragic loss of life.
The one that has affected me the most was my father's childhood friend. Not only was he a strong family man but was strong in the Christian faith. He was a healthy guy until one day he wasn't. I called my dad one night while I was at college. He told me the news that his best friend was diagnosed with cancer. My heart broke. How could someone so healthy and so active be crippled by this repulsive sickness? But he wasn't giving up that easily. He had the whole community rooting for him. However, he left a lot sooner than anyone expected. A lot sooner than any of us wanted him to.
This was the first time I felt like I had been directly hurt by cancer. To think that a month before he was diagnosed, he contacted me on Facebook Messenger during my first full week at college. He talked to my dad and heard how I was having a rough start in adjusting to college life and wanted to check in on me. He asked how I was doing and all I could do to alleviate my homesickness. That was the kind of guy he was. I messaged him for 30 minutes that night. He told me that the next time he was up in the Bloomington-Normal area, he would take me out for lunch. He never got the chance to do that. It has been a year since that conversation happened and so much has changed since then.
When I hear that someone has been diagnosed with cancer, I often feel helpless. What can I do to help them fight? I have participated in Relay for Life only once but that event changed my life. People come together to stay up all night and raise money for cancer research, to finally find a cure for this foul illness.
Cancer, you will not control those who have to fight you. You will not control those who support them in this tough fight. We will not let you take away those affected by you without a fight. Because no one fights alone. There will always be someone to support your victims. There will always be a race to find a cure so that you will never, ever exist in the future.
My mother's best friend has been gone for five years now and my dad's childhood friend would have celebrated his 50th birthday last week. To those who are still fighting the fight, you have my support and the support of so many others until you defeat this. Because no one fights alone.