Back in the day, if you would have asked me, who are my heroes? I would have said people like, Lance Armstrong, Pre, Constantina Tomescu-Dita, Chrissie Wellington etc. The common theme there? They are all athletes. Athletes born with God-given talents that made "working out" and "racing to win" their full time jobs. These talents have afforded them the opportunities that most of us can only dream about. What do they fight for? First place. Sponsors. Speed. Prizes. and then one day, all that changed. They dropped off my list entirely. Well, all but one but it will become clear why. It happened in an instant. It became abundantly clear they weren't fighting for anything. They were simply trying to be the best at their "jobs." What shifted my thinking? What redefined my definition of a hero? An email in December from one of *The Aunts.* Her daughter, my cousin, at the age of 36 was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. What? No! Older people get cancer. People I don't know get cancer. and certainly women in their 30s do not. get. cancer. Or so I thought...
My bubble of ignorance burst. Reality slapped me across the face. And then it kicked me in the gut. And then it stabbed me in the back. Cancer doesn't discriminate. It doesn't care how old you are. It doesn't care about your gender. And it certainly doesn't care about your family.
My gorgeous and vivacious cousin, E. has gone through several surgeries, one of which was a full hysterectomy. at the age of 36. Think about it ladies...She has finished 2 rounds of chemo, with hopefully only 2 more to go. She fights nauseau daily. She is tired most of the time. She had the most gorgeous, thick, long and naturally blonde hair - a very unusual characteristic in my family. It started to fall out so she cut it short - a cute pixie style. and then she finally had to shave her head. Now she wears an adorable brunette wig. She has an amazing husband. Adorable 4 year old daughter. Wonderful family. Incredible friends. and probably the most positive attitude of anyone I have ever known.
E. is still smiling. She laughs. She openly writes about cancer on Facebook. Although she is probably scared, she is not afraid to talk about her journey. She is not afraid to live her life, day to day, taking the punches, getting knocked down and then getting back up on her own two feet. She is not alone. She has not shut anyone out. and most importantly, she doesn't feel sorry for herself. She is fighting for her life. She wants to win this race. She is looking for speed to get cancer out of her body. She certainly has sponsors, lots of them, who believe in her and will be with her all the way to the finish line. and the prizes? What she does all of this for? To watch her little girl walk down the aisle and get married one day. To go on a second and third and fourth honeymoon with her husband. To become a Grandmother herself. To live a long and happy life. So, I ask you again...what is a hero?
|E. and I|