Sunday, January 8

Day 8: Battles lost and battles won

Three years ago today a dear friend of mine lost her battle with breast cancer. It began with a lump that she found that, after removal and chemotherapy, metastasized over time into a relentless brain tumor. She was 41 years old, newly married and one of the happiest souls that I have had the pleasure of knowing. In the midst of her fight her husband was offered a job outside of Texas and they up and moved to Seattle. She was now away from her support network of friends and family, her job as an elementary school teacher, and the home that she had worked so hard to buy on her own. Prior to moving she had been having horrible headaches and problems with one of her legs and feet. The doctors in Texas thought she was having symptoms of sciatica. However, upon settling down in Seattle she followed up with a doctor there who ordered an MRI. The Seattle doctor found the brain tumor. My friend was devastated. I was devastated. Everyone she knew was devastated. I had learned from speaking to a doctor that I worked with that this was the beginning of the end for her. He said that if it was a new type of cancer she could possibly beat it but that if it was metastatic disease it would most likely move rapidly. It did. Within 6 months she was wheelchair bound and beginning to lose her sight. Less than a year later she went to heaven. She fought a hard battle but unfortunately lost.

Looking back at her battle with one of the most horrific diseases we as humans face today, I can honestly say that I was terrified for her. I always thought she was so courageous, going through such a trying and difficult illness and she was still able to smile and make jokes. She responded once that she didn’t have a choice but I beg to differ. She did have a choice in how she reacted to this awful battle. She could have given up and allowed it to take over right away, without a fight, but she didn’t. She fought tooth and nail. My doctor friend said with metastatic cancer the prognosis is often very short, six good months. My friend lived a year and a half after the doctors discovered that she had a brain tumor. She had a strong will to survive and she tried her very best to beat it.

Sometimes life doesn’t seem fair. We have no way of knowing how long we have on this earth. Some people are lucky and live long into a ripe old age while others are taken away quickly. I read in the news last week that a newborn baby died a few days after birth from E coli. This baby never got to feel the sunshine on its face, or see a butterfly, or a beautiful rainbow after a thunderstorm. Every day that we get to experience the miracle of life is a battle won. Be thankful that you have won the battle today and do something outrageous!

Kelly, I light a candle for you and your family today. Thank you for your friendship and courage and for showing me how to really fight and win a battle.

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