Probably everyone of us has been touched by cancer, maybe a family member, friend, neighbor or colleague. In fact, if you have not had to deal with cancer, then you have no idea how incredibly lucky you are because cancer, is your worst nightmare. And unlike a normal nightmare that you eventually wake up from and forget, this nightmare never ever truly goes away. From the very moment my sister Kath was diagnosed with malignant melanoma in April 2003, life was never going to be the same for anyone in our family.
Kath was about to go into a physical and emotional battle more challenging than any of us could have expected.
In the beginning, days were filled supporting Kath around her Doctors appointments, tests and uncomfortable procedures, but at days end I would lay awake in the dark for hours and the emotional battle would begin.
I would lay there absolutely consumed with thoughts of Kath, how much I loved her, and how she is so important to so many people. I was constantly filled with denial, disbelief and fear. Always the fear. It would settle over me like a blanket that I couldn’t get out from under. Sometimes, my thoughts would go to a place so dark and scary that I could barely breath. And then and only then what pulled me back from that awful place, was remembering that this was my sister Kath that was in this battle, and that she is the strongest woman I have ever known in my entire life. From the day I was born, Kath has been my big sister and best friend. She has taken care of me, guided me and been my role model.
She is as constant in my life as the sun coming up, and always as dependable. If I was to describe her I would say she is strong yet caring, always puts others ahead of herself, and never ever, backs down from a challenge. Fortunately, these are all of the qualities that have helped her and our entire family survive the past four years. Through this disease our family has truly learned the meaning of certain words.
For Kath, the word is battle, because every day she gets up and fights the battle of her life, simply to live another day. For the rest of the family we have learned the meaning of words like useless and helpless, because although we are all there each and every day to do everything we possibly can to help Kath through this, she will ultimately be fighting this battle alone.
For myself and my family, if we had to find a silver lining in this black stormy cloud, I would say that it is that we have all been reminded of the true meaning of the word love. Because it is our love of each other that provides us the strength we need to overcome this challenge every single day.