I think we’re all familiar with cancer. Too familiar. I have yet to meet someone that wasn’t touched by cancer. My first experience was when my best friend, Becky, was diagnosed with leukemia while we were still in elementary school. I remember she couldn’t come out to play, how thin she got, how sick she was, the odd bruises, the pic line in her chest, her head with just a smattering of random hairs on it, and always her big smile and infectious laugh. We’d play with her wigs for hours over at her house. Once, when she was doing really well and seemingly healthy, her parents let her stay overnight at my house. We were so excited! She forgot her jammies, so I lent her a pair of mine. Becky had one really long hair on her head, surrounded by a bunch of short ones…we entertained ourselves by standing that hair up and watching it “dance” while she wobbled her head. I remember we laughed late in the night at her dancing hair and we talked about all the things we would do once she got better.
I’m not sure how long after our sleepover that Becky got really sick again; I was too young to really pay attention to the passing of time. One day my fifth grade teacher (who had Becky in her class the year prior) pulled me out into the hall. She told me, with big teary eyes that Becky had died earlier that morning. I must’ve had the blankest look on my face because she asked if I had heard her. I nodded my head, went back in the classroom and put my head down on my desk. It didn’t seem real.
A few days later was Becky’s funeral. I walked in with my mom, took one look at that casket and stopped dead in my tracks. I had already been to a few funerals already…great-grandparents who were very old. But way up in the front of the room was my best friend, in her favorite wig, dead. Silly, laughing Becky who was only a few months older than me was gone. My mom tried to move me but I couldn’t make my feet move forward. Becky’s mom came and asked if I wanted to go with her, and as much as I thought I wanted to, I couldn’t. I was too afraid. So my mom and Becky’s mom talked quietly a few moments and we left.
We got home and I got ready for bed. I opened my drawer with my jammies and saw the set Becky wore when she stayed over. I pushed them to the back of the drawer and never wore them again.
So I’m standing up to cancer for Becky. And for my grandpa who used to share his M&Ms with me when I was little, and died of throat cancer when I was only 16 (I could almost dedicate an entire blog just to him). For my great-grandmother I never got to meet who died of “woman’s cancer” (guessing either ovarian, uterine, or cervical cancer…my grandmother never specified when she told me). For my great-uncles, brothers, Richard and Micky; one who was a fabulous musician and one who taught me how to peel an orange. For our friend Kari’s mom, who was one of the funniest ladies I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting, who passed from abdominal cancer. And for the countless others out there currently fighting.
Please help them fight. Click the button at the top of this post for more information on ways to reduce your risk and ways you can help fund research for treatments and cures.