I was writing a post in my head all day today, but all the words suddenly evaporated. Nothing that i’m going through right now seems to matter quite as much as the fact that one of my fellow young adults with cancer breathed her last breath today. She was 31.
I met her right after she was first diagnosed. She was tall and beautiful and fashionable–she had yet to start chemo, but she had already shaved her head. She seemed to me calm and composed, perhaps a little apprehensive about the long treatment path ahead, but ready for whatever cancer might throw at her. She wasn’t stuck on “Why did this happen to me” or “I wish things were different.” It was fight time. And she fought for over a year. It didn’t matter that her diagnosis was tricky. She was ready, she was strong, and she was positive until the end.
Maybe this sounds a little egocentric, but a friend who knew her echoed the same feeling today–young adults we know aren’t supposed to die from cancer. When you get diagnosed with cancer as a young adult, it’s hard not to meet and remember others dealing with their own diagnosis. We’re the youngest ones in the waiting rooms, in the infusion centers, and at the support groups. We have our own lives, but we stick together because even though our diagnosis are different, we’re dealing with many of the same issues.
I feel like I have a little community of fellow young adults who are always in the back of my mind–whether they’re current patients, survivors, or livers. Among us, there are amazing stories and there are sad stories, but I always think of my little community as the one that bucks the odds. We laugh and we cry and we complain about the minutia of cancer, but I think we sometimes forget that this disease is serious business. You’re not supposed to die from cancer at any age, but especially not when you’ve just begun to start your adult life. Especially not at 31.