52 weeks ago, on a beautiful Sunday morning in mid August, my aunt Annie passed away from colon cancer. I don’t usually get hung up on dates… but it’s hard not to once you’ve lost a loved one.
It’s been said that ‘time heals all wounds,’ but this isn’t the case at all. The wounds may heal, but scars remain. That day will always loom over you, filling your mind with memories of what was, and grief over what could have been.
So much has happened in the past year. Our family suffered the loss of two other close relatives – my grandpa and my mother-in-law – and in January, my grandma’s peritoneal cancer came back with a vengeance. She was given 3-6 months to live, and here we are 7 months later and she’s still with us.
My grandma didn’t take the news well, obviously. She was on anti-depressants for a while. She didn’t want to get out of bed… but now she’s back to her normal routine. Watching telenovelas, cooking, cleaning… I’ve never known anyone to enjoy doing laundry as much as she does! However, she’s been dealing with increased pain in the past couple of weeks. There’s a noticeable tumor growing in her abdomen, and her ascites has to be drained much more frequently. But she’s still with us. She’s incredibly strong, though I’ve caught her crying a few times when she thinks no one is around. I also have my crying spells. Not so much when I think of what I’m losing… more like when I think of what we’ll never have. I’m not sure if I’ve changed in the past year, but I can reflect on what I’ve learned.
- I’ve learned to appreciate what I have, not waste time longing for what I don’t.
- I’ve learned who my true friends really are. Those who brought us meals when I didn’t have time to go grocery shopping, much less step in the kitchen. Those who let me cry on their shoulder instead of turning their backs. Those who gave me words when I had none.
- I’ve learned how important it is to give back. To share what we’ve been through with others, in the hopes that someone else will benefit from our loss… our pain.
- I’ve learned that no matter how much you try, there are some things that you just can’t fix.
And the tears come streaming down your face, when you lose something you can’t replace…
Did you know that each year, more than 290,000 women will be diagnosed with breast and gynecological cancers and more than 67,000 will pass away from these all-too-prevalent cancers? We all know of someone affected by a women’s cancer and know that patients require strong support networks from friends and family. By lending support to pioneering cancer research and treatment centers such as City of Hope and its women’s cancers initiative, we can contribute to breakthroughs in prevention, treatment and survivorship, demonstrating that we’re “all in,” together.
The City of Hope women’s cancers program aims to help women live longer, better lives, through compassionate care. Based in California, the program’s research advances cancer care globally. City of Hope experts know that fighting one women’s cancer at a time is not enough, though – that’s why they’ve taken a unique, multidisciplinary approach to improve treatment and survivorship for women with breast and gynecological cancers.
How can you get involved in the City of Hope “All In” movement?
- Learn more at https://cityofhope.org.
- Spread the word at https://facebook.com/womenscancers.
- Join the fight at https://walk4hope.org.