It’ll be two years since my father passed away from lung cancer this coming August, yet as hard as I try to both move on and honour his life, there have been too many reminders lately. This past week, a prominent and very much loved Vancouver blogger, Derek Miller, lost his battle to cancer at the young age of 41. Yesterday, it was my brother and his wife’s turn to grieve: their dear friend died at 48 after bravely kicking cancer in both breasts at 40, only to have it come back into her small intestine years later, wrap their ugly cells there, bring her daily suffering, and finally finish her beautiful life. She slipped into a coma and passed away yesterday morning, luckily without knowing that pain any longer.

When Derek Miller blogged about wearing diapers, it brought back the memories of my Dad, whose last days were spent at home, in a hospital bed in his living room, sweating and wearing the same. When I look around our house and see how many possessions my husband and I have come to own over the years, I vividly remember my Dad dying with one thing on him, his yellow Livestrong bracelet, and even that must have been cut away within hours of his body being brought to the funeral parlor. Dad was 76 and not nearly ready to end living, as I can imagine Derek with a young family and loving wife, and my brother’s friend Nancy, who at 48 became a spokesperson for cancer and lived her life to the fullest, especially after having been given a second chance at 40 when she was officially cleared of cancer in her breasts.

Growing up in the 70’s, I remember how hushed a word cancer was. The disease was almost private in a sense, its own enigma. Now it’s unfortunately become as popular as heart disease. Right up on there on the top 10.

Having a life for four years that’s met with daily meds, doctor’s appointments, chemotherapy vs. two months of pain and making quick amends with yourself and the world. I have to wonder which is the better case scenario? I watched my father as he was faced with the latter choice. I also flew to Los Angeles twice in three weeks: The first trip as a warning from my stepmother to “see your father while he’s still got some strength and clarity” and the second visit “Get down here now.” In the space of 10 days between the two visits, I’d seen signs of visual aging that only cancer can deliver. He hadn’t lost so much weight as to become unrecognizable, but it was all to be seen in his face and in his loss of hair.

So I can only conclude by saying that cancer will strike someone in your lifetime that you’re either very close to or have only read about online. Either way, life is a blessing and not a single moment of it should ever be taken for granted.

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