Childhood Cancer Awareness
September is observed as Childhood Cancer Awareness month. For many people, this story will hit too close to home as recently a friend of mine from Camp Boggy Creek lost their battle to cancer. The statistics for childhood cancer are 15,780 kids will be diagnosed every year, and 1/4 of those kids will not survive the disease (Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, 2014). Almost 16,000 families lives are turned upside down because of this disease. Even though the survival rates are increasing for childhood cancer, there is still no cure. There is still no clear evidence as to what causes childhood cancer. But I am not going to sit here and write statistics this entire article; I'm going to tell a story the best way I can.
That friend I mentioned earlier? She was born with VACTERL syndrome which can affect many systems in the body. One of the systems that can be affected is the heart. I met her at Camp Boggy Creek during the heart week. We didn't talk much, but I could tell even then that she had a fire in her soul. That year was my last year at Boggy. I watched her interact with her then boyfriend and now husband (You can read their beautiful love story on Facebook @TheChronicTravelers). About a year ago, she was diagnosed with cancer in her brain. Earlier this year she beat that cancer, but the remission was short lived. On the one year mark of being diagnosed with the first cancer, she was told she had cancer in her only lung. Before she was diagnosed with cancer, she was an inspiration to all living her best life while still dealing with her health problems. After camp, I didn't keep in touch with her except as friends on Facebook. She inspired me with her constant happiness even through her health issues. It was heartbreaking for me to hear that someone so full of joy and life had passed away. She touched so many lives. She has inspired me to do something, to believe in a cause whether that be for childhood cancer or for heart conditions. I will put forth the energy to dedicate myself to raise awareness for these illnesses because it's the right thing to do and she would still be raising awareness for Childhood Cancer this month had she not lost the fight to that cancer. I should correct that statement; she did not lose the fight to cancer, she won. She got to experience life and live it to the fullest. How many people if you ask them in their 70s will tell you they tried so many things and lived life while in their 20s? Some may say they made memories, and some may say they wish they could forget some of those memories, but she lived her life only thinking of living. She told everyone she wouldn't give up and she didn't, she fought so hard.
We all need something to believe in whether that be hope for better things or joy in good things coming. She was the definition of someone that enjoyed life and living. We should all follow her example and live our best lives no matter the circumstances. Just enjoy the hands we're given and not take anything for granted because the fact of the matter is we are not promised tomorrow.