Six years ago, my friend's mother, Joan, was diagnosed with stage 4 ovarian cancer. For months, we balanced our sadness over her suffering and anger at the unfairness of it all, with the joy and excitement of planning a wedding.
The disease has touched the lives of so many of my friends in unimaginable ways. And yet each of them has faced the challenge and uncertainty with a calm and grace that is truly humbling.
Yesterday, one friend shared the good news that her battle with cancer seems to be over. Today, for another friend, the battle begins.
As she headed to the hospital this morning, I texted her with the only words of encouragement I felt would truly capture the essence of the moment. "Say it with me," I wrote. "Fuck you, cancer! Fuck you and the cells you rode in on." A few minutes later I received her reply: "FUCK YOU, CANCER!" It was then that I relaxed a bit, knowing that no matter how long or hard the road, we're in this together.
Not a day goes by that I don't think of Joan. Though she didn't get to see her daughter walk down the aisle, the gifts she left behind were immeasurable. I am a better person for having known her and the strength and courage with which she lived.