Early Thanksgiving morning I read on Twitter that a young woman had died leaving her husband and two small children. I didn’t know anything about her, but I was curious and followed the link. Not the cheeriest way to start Thanksgiving day…so what.
She died of some kind of pelvic tumor. Not breast, or ovarian, or uterine. Not a cancer with a household name, but cancer all the same. She fought a brave fight, taking on treatments and withstanding surgeries that make me shudder to think about and after several years, she died. Because that’s what happens in life.
I felt so badly for her, for the struggle she endured, for the sadness she must have felt, for her young family. It didn’t matter that I didn’t know her. I felt badly knowing I was lucky. I was going off to share Thanksgiving with my family and extended family. A day where everyone at my table walked in on their own, ate without assistance, laughed, raised glasses to welcome a new baby, celebrate an engagement and acknowledge a 20th anniversary. All that stuff is life, too.
I often wrestle with my own complaints about breast cancer. My thinking is, how dare I complain? I’m stage 1, no chemo required. Yeah, a bilateral mastectomy, 4 drains for 9 days, two reconstruction surgeries…still not quite finished. A lot of crap, but who cares? There are Stages 2, 3, and 4 out there. There are people like that young woman out there. What about them?
A friend of mine says we can’t take on another person’s illness. We can be compassionate. We can be caring and we can listen, but their journey belongs to them. We each have our own. We can’t take good or bad from columns A and B and total it all up to see who’s better or worse. Life isn’t ordered off a menu, no matter how much we’d like it to be. We can only be thankful for what we have, appreciate what we’re given and make the best of it. I tried to and went on to have a really great Thanksgiving and I hope everyone reading did the same.