Cancer sucks

At this moment, that’s all I’ve got: cancer sucks.

Several weeks ago, I learned simultaneously that one friend was just diagnosed with melanoma and a sorority sister of mine had just lost her battle with cancer.  That morning, all I could think was, ‘cancer sucks’.

This morning, one very close friend was rushing home to be with his father who has been fighting courageously to rid his body of leukemia. Then, this afternoon, another friend wrote to tell me that his mum — a woman very dear to me — lost her seven-year battle with breast cancer just an hour earlier.

And, again, all I can think is, ‘cancer sucks’.

I don’t think many of us are strangers to cancer any longer. It is so pervasive. Whilst most of my working life is occupied by the world of HIV, TB and drug use issues, I’d love to see us all live to see the day when cancer is no longer so common. Regardless of what type or system it afflicts, the simple word, ‘cancer’, has this ability to absolutely paralyze and arrest all other thoughts.

We’ve come a long way in terms of diagnosing and treating cancer. Perhaps its simple awareness; perhaps it is a combination of awareness, early detection and better, more aggressive treatment. Perhaps, I’m simply at that age when cancer affects more within my own social network.

None of that is particularly comforting at this precise moment. I’m sure that it holds absolutely no meaning for those family members my darling friend Rita left behind.

Here’s to all those fighting their own battles against cancer, to their family, friends and loved ones fighting right alongside them, and to all those grieving as a results of this horrible scourge.

Cancer sucks. That’s still all I’ve got.

[For Rita.]

Image by Becky Hilgendorf (pikesbabe on flickr)

Image by Becky Hilgendorf
(pikesbabe on flickr)

Why I Walk…

Today was the annual Avon Walk for Breast Cancer. This event takes place each autumn and is used to raise awareness and much-needed funding for research on breast cancer in Finland. I’ve taken part in the walk physically three years now, and at least supported the walk if I wasn’t able to attend it every years since 2008.

I won’t be missing any future years if at all possible.

One of the reasons it was a special day both this year and last revolved around sharing the event with dear friends who are breast cancer survivors. One of friend was in the middle of her chemotherapy treatment during last year’s walk and bravely and courageously walked the longer route through Helsinki despite not feeling at all at her best. This year she’s doing fantastic, she’s finished chemo, and she continues to amaze and marvel providing endless amounts of inspiration to many. This year was additionally special as another dear friend celebrated the official notice that she is cured of her own battle against breast cancer which started five years ago.

I honestly can’t imagine life without either of these two brilliant women, and I’m incredibly grateful and humbled to share the day with them.

The day was even more poignant when I arrived home to find a message from an old friend who is now beginning her own battle against breast cancer. It may have been years since I’ve seen her, but this news hit me hard and brought home once again just how precious life and time are. I hope she knows I’m with her, even if not physically there.

For the three women above, and for the other women who have fought and won, as well as those who have sadly lost, their individual battles against breast cancer, I will walk. With hope and the dedication of those who dedicate their own lives to finding a cure, may we be a few steps closer to eliminating it finally and definitively.

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