This has been a sad week. On Sunday, I attended the funeral of a high school friend. She was the kind of person who loved life. When I think back, I most remember her smile, her laugh and her ability to make anything fun.
We met in elementary school. We skied during the winters and had girls’ sleepovers during the summers. She touched so many lives as was evidenced at the funeral. She was fun-loving and vivacious, but three years ago, she was diagnosed with Breast Cancer. And at that age of 31, she was told Stage Four.
Initially, several doctors had dismissed her gut feeling that something was wrong and determined that a painful lump in the breast was something that could wait and be checked again in 6 months. She was told that her symptoms were likely due to other issues. In fact, if I shared all the details with you of this diagnosis, you’d think it absurd. Yet, her husband was quick to share that she never complained about the injustice of her diagnosis. Amazing!
A friend of the family said that although this friend of mine had cancer, cancer did not have her. And I saw that to be so true as she continued to live life and thankfully, keep us all updated through Facebook. How would you handle it? I was so impressed with the grace, joy and even humor that continued to run through my friend as she fought the biggest battle of her life.
October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. My friend is no longer with us, but she will continue to be an example to us . . . an example of how to live life in the midst of struggle, an example of courage and bravery, an example of fighting with everything you’ve got. She will be a reminder to do monthly self-exams and to pursue those gut feelings.
A few last things I heard at the funeral that I must share with you:
* Be your own advocate when it comes to your health!
* Every woman with breast cancer deserves to receive a diagnosis of stage one.
* A final thought shared by that family friend: as she sat at my friend’s bedside on that final day, she reflected on the three year fight . . . nearly a 1000 days. She posed the question to us, if we knew we had 1000 days to live, how would we live, what would we change, what would we do.
No one knows how long they have here on this earth. My friend lived life magnificently during those three years. Her life inspires me to live life to the fullest, to celebrate each day given to me and focus on what is truly important. Goodbye sweet friend.