Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Even though it’s not...It’s contagious

Posted Date: : May 22, 2008 11:22 AM
Though it's not a disease that I can catch like a cold, to me cancer has become contagious.

I don't mean this in a negative way by any means, nor do I mean it like in the way that people feared AIDS in the 80's and am going to get people to flee at the sight of a head-wrap or a shiny bald head. NO.

What it means to me is that this FIGHT has become contagious.

I grew up with Cancer all around me and yet the reality of it was still so very far away. Grandparents, Great-aunts and uncles, all those distant relatives, who all seemed so old and silver-haired. Varying forms of cancers that I couldn't comprehend at such young age, starting at 9 years old.

I remember going to wakes and not knowing what was going on, just being sad. I don't remember seeing them go through treatment, just seeing less of them. I didn't know the severity. I didn't see the pain, the changes in their day to day lives.

I saw them on Holidays. Wielding their cheek pinches and once-a-year gifts. I was too young to notice the sallowness in their skin, or the tired look in their eyes. The weight loss, the hair loss if they had it.

The closest hit was my neighbor, my Grand Peg I called her. Closest person to a grandparent I knew since my biological ones were either gone before my time, or states away. Watching her go through it so quickly with a brain tumor was heart wrenching. The chemo, the radiation, the changes in her. The hospice. Yet still, even in junior high at the time it still didn't resonate to me that this was something so life altering.

Now at 29 and having dealt the past year with my best friends diagnosis, battle and CONQUER of breast cancer at the age of 28 I get it. Seeing someone who's life who has mirrored mine since our friendship began in the 4th grade made it REAL.

This wasn't someone who I vaguely knew. This wasn't someone old. This wasn't someone who to me had lived their life, this was someone who's life, like MINE, was just beginning.

And this made it all seem like I had to do something. Like this was reality. THIS hit home.

Kelly is amazing. She was scared, she knew things were going to change. Her life, her outlook, her relationships with people. And yet she took it all in stride. Her sense of humor, her humility and her integrity made me want to fight this with her side by side.

Armed with a pink ribbon and a new lease on this disease, I want to make people aware. I want to help other people beat this like she did. She didn't sit back and take it. She educated herself, she educated ME.

She taught me more about being a friend and about being a good person. She taught be that we all are bigger than this microscopic disease and that to me is WORTH being contagious.

I hope we all catch it.

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