I was out to dinner with a longtime friend the other night and I inquired about an old mutual friend, an ex-boyfriend in fact, with hopes of hearing that life is treating him well. Instead, what I learned made my heart drop and my eyes swell with tears. This mutual friend's boyfriend (that’s a story for another day) had recently begun the battle with “the Big C.” This young man isn’t even 30 years old.
I was told that it is a rare form of cancer, and he has a long road ahead. Our friend is standing by his side every step of the way, though. Sometimes I feel like my biggest issues in life right now are deciding whether or not I should tempt myself at the Nordstrom shoe sale in light of the moving expenses I will have in the month ahead as I prepare to move up the coast. Now, admittedly, I do face more strenuous moments than this example on rare occasions, but it is a fair comparison in order to highlight the fact that these young men are facing a daily battle of life versus death.
I hate to be so heavy with this week's article, but I feel compelled to talk about this form of illness as it has established a bigger presence in my life than I could ever imagine for someone my age. I have four friends, all in their 20s, trying to stay strong and support a parent as they battle cancer. Now I have a college friend called to standby his significant other as he battles this disease as well.
My mom made the point that these conversations were not a part of her life at my age. She didn't have to watch her friends lose parents to cancer. So, why is this happening? Is the stress of life affecting our ability, literally, to live well and thrive? Is our food full of chemicals and additives that are actually destructive rather than nutritional? Is plastic the dark horse in this race slowly deteriorating the quality of life?
I don't have any real answers, but these are the questions that often circle my mind. After all, members of our generation are seeing loved ones constantly fighting a deadly and destructive battle. What I do know is that life is a gift and these battles of life and death teach us to slow down in order to look around at the many blessings in our lives.
To those of you personally involved in the war against cancer; my heart goes out to you. I send empathy, prayers, and hope for a victorious outcome. I also send a message of gratitude. Whether you realize it or not, those around you are powerfully impacted and incredibly humbled by the strength you show as you pursue victory in this fight. I'm hoping that some scientist can provide specific answers, sooner rather than later, to the questions of how and why. But until that day arrives, it is important to take a moment and recognize these "soldiers" and proclaim that all of the battles are not in vain.
Images courtesy of Pitchero.com, Martincountyhealth.org
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