When I decided to write this, I realized it had been one year to the day since I posted about Brittany Maynard, a hero who chose to live life to the fullest until the side effects caused by a brain tumor no longer allowed her the quality of life a young woman desires. When the time came, Brittany chose to free herself from the pain and suffering of her disease after sharing her brave story with the World…she is a hero and inspiration to all of us, both those who’ve suffered past and present from illnesses, and those who face it through the lives of others.
Two years ago I lost a dear friend to cancer. I’ll never forget perusing through my newsfeed on Facebook and almost missing his post announcing to the World that of his almost certain terminal diagnosis. It was surreal to me what seemed to be such a nonchalant post; I couldn’t imagine what he was really thinking. “FUCK CANCER,” he said at some point during his battle, and we all just started saying it. He once said, “Doesn’t really matter what you say … for me, it’s just knowing people care. Never thought that mattered much, but it really does. I couldn’t get through this without everyone, especially my wife. She’s incredible … taking care of me while she’s nine months pregnant. I’ve actually discovered I’m incredibly lucky in a lot of instances. I know I don’t take people for granted anymore. And you’re right, who knows why … and who cares. I just have to get through it. And I will.” He fought until the end and enjoyed every minute to the best of his ability, just like Brittany did…and the way many others do, too.
Facebook has brought to light many others’ battles, some so humble about their experience you don’t even realize they have cancer because they rarely talk about it. They simply count their blessings and maybe share a picture of the progress they’ve made during their treatment. What an amazing woman you are Kelly Smokovitz Gaynier, for showing us your strength and for having such a strong faith…YOU are a hero.
To Frank, who’s battled cancer longer than I’ve known him, never for a moment showing signs of weakness as to your affliction. And now, having your child face cancer and have to go through the pain through the eyes of a Father…YOU are a hero.
And to our children with cancer…innocent to the sins of the world, yet afflicted and punished by them…how unfair it is to have face such tribulations and have to learn about life far sooner than you ever should. And yet, always smiling, always positive, and always looking forward to your futures. Jordyn Chwalik, the World watches as you kick cancer’s butt, always with a smile on your face…YOU are a hero.
Some of us defy fate and surprise everyone, even when the odds are stacked against us. Little Alex has been a fighter since the day he entered this World and even when he developed a brain tumor and no other kid in the World had what you had, along with all of your other challenges…you set a precedence for other kids and parents’ around the World.
In 2013, dying patients were polled about their lives’ regrets so others may learn and live a fuller life. The top five regrets were:
- I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.
- I wish I hadn’t worked so hard.
- I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.
- I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.
- I wish that I had let myself be happier.
Are you headed towards a life of regrets (or possibly already there), and what can you do to change it? After reading about those who’ve remained positive, even during their most troubling times, and learning from those who reflected on life’s regrets in the face of dying, what conscious decisions can you make now that will lead to a more fulfilling life in the future? You only get one shot at a fulfilling life.
“Our greatest fear should not be of failure, but of succeeding at things in life that don’t really matter. ”