I hate the cliches of cancer. Words like "battle" and "war" and "soldier". But every cliche holds a germ of truth, doesn't it? Because as much as I shy away from the term, it is indeed a battle. Except we aren't fighting for oil, or religion or land. We are fighting for our lives. Every day, every moment.
We adopt a soldier's mentality. We do what we have to do to get the job done. But at what cost? For some, the scars linger far after the war is over. For others still fighting, putting on that gear everyday becomes harder as the days turn into months then turn into years. And while we are thankful to still be alive, the fighting is taking its toll.
I see cancer as a sniper; hiding, waiting, ready to attack. Sometimes there is silence and I relax a bit, forgetting for a moment that I'm in a war zone. Then a bullet flies by and I realize I'm under attack again. I need to make quick decisions with trembling hands and gripping fear. There is no room for error. I'm two years in; by now I know what needs to be done.
I look to my left and beside me is my friend, taken down so quickly I didn't have the chance to say goodbye. When I think about it, though, do any of us really get enough time to say goodbye?
She fought for four years, enduring more than most can ever fathom. She did it with grace and humor, kindness and compassion. She guided me, taught me how to cope with this war, how to find beauty, even while walking through hell. She deserved the Medal of Honor for the fortitude she exhibited, an acknowledgement of her valor.
I can't help but see myself in her. It could so easily have been me. But I know she would want me to carry on, to keep fighting until that sniper is but a distant memory. And that's what I will do to honor her life and the millions before her. We stand together as one.
For those who say we haven't won the war on cancer yet, I say I'm winning it every day I am alive.
Rest In Peace, my sweet friend