Is it empathy I feel or guilt? Commonly, I cannot help, but ask myself, “Why not me?” Especially when it’s younger adults or even children that haven’t really had able to experience life yet. Cancer runs strongly around me, including my family. My maternal grandmother passed away in ’92, two of my aunts are survivors, and my stepfather’s sister has terminal brain cancer. Also, my cousin’s wife passed away a little over a year ago with lung cancer. She was only 25 years old. Last December, one of my closest friends from my tour in Iraq also passed away from terminal cancer. He was only 42 years old.
Now, I face the reality of a friend, an old co-worker who faces a rare cancer due to his family’s genetics. He is also only 25. So young and still full of life, yet he’s fighting to survive another day with every breath.
I am sure I am not the only one who feels frustrated with how reality and the disappointments that come with it. Especially, when you are one who has to watch friends and family who have to battle for their life on a day to day basis as you stay healthy as an ox on a physical state.
People would debate that empathy is strength. To be able to feel another’s pain on an emotional state. I’ll be honest, it can be a pain in the ass sometimes. It also helps you evaluate your life and throws fear in your face at times. I can’t help but question my capability in life. I may not have much to offer as a struggling veteran, but I have accomplished a lot already in life, but what fairness is it that a kid only 25 gets cursed with the tease of death and he hasn’t lived his full capability with life yet. Is it a symbolic message to the people around us?
I know with Elizabeth’s death last year, it brought a huge wave of inspiration to embrace life the best we can. Why my cousin Matt, with Elizabeth’s family, started “Living For Liz” charity for Lung Cancer Awareness & Research. She also motivated many to alter their outlook on life and change the lifestyles that may have been needed to be changed due to the healthy choice of living. She fought a good fight for almost a year before her passing.
As for Jon, I can’t stay mad. He dropped communication with me in 2011 when he was diagnosed with cancer and if I did get an e-mail, he would have never mentioned his health. I am not sure if it was out of protection or if he only wanted me to remember him the perfect state he was in (mind, body, & soul) when we departed ways and he left Iraq. There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t think of my “brother-in-arms” or our memories. He also fought the hard battle for over a year, almost two years, before his passing in December.
I’ve been doing better with my life by altering my mind and lifestyle as much as I can, but with my lifelong struggle with depression, it helps to get a little kick in the ass at times, so to speak. But I never asked for this. I don’t mean for another friend to be diagnosed with this terrible disease to wake me up again with my own life. Is this guilt coming into play? Is it really my fault? I should have spent more time with the kid. Maybe before I put down the bottle, I should have had a few more with him. Drowning in the “What Ifs” won’t get me anywhere, I know this. I also know that Ryan has lived the life he wanted, just as my aunt is living the life she is living without cancer full filling the state of mind and drowning her.
That’s inspiration for me. Every single one of these people I have witnessed to go through the testaments and not allowing others see their weakness, but instead allowing their smiles reach out into this world. That allows me motivation for when I am back on my feet again and permanently to go out into the world without needing to look at the rear view mirror. To live a life of my own, not of someone else’s.
Another alteration in eating habits: tossing the microwave out. I hope this blog finds you inspiration to embrace your life a bit better than what has come already. We are still here for a purpose. These people have or are serving theirs. I am still trying to accept and sink in the news on Ryan as I speak to you all tonight. It sucks when one younger than you is fighting a bigger life battle than you. Makes you wonder, eh?
This blog is personally dedicated to the victims, warriors, and survivors of cancer that are dearly imprinted in my big ole’ heart and around the world. I am blessed that each and one of y’all have come into my life in some shape or form.
Ryan Roberts (Stay calm, be strong, & fuck cancer!), Aunt Brenda (I love you Auntie!), Jon Nehl (RIP 2012), Elizabeth Melde (RIP 2012), Aunt Cathy (Survivor!), Aunt Cecelia (Survivor!), & Grandma Colleen (RIP 1992).
Until Next Time…