Today, I began to think about those I loved who have been and are affected by cancer. I jotted down a few lines in my head (yes, I write in my head before I write on paper), wrote my thoughts down in an e-mail, and sent it to the faculty at school.
My friend Kati has really been challenging her friends to blog concerning childhood cancer - I don't have the depth of experience to blog in the way I probably should, and some of the details were and are hazy, but this is what I wrote. It's a tribute to her, as well as to a dear friend of mine who lost her battle with cancer over ten years ago.
I couldn't help but write about the polarities and parallels that tie these two incredible women together.
Why I give…
It was just a hurt ankle.
I was told that the day she sat in the stands, cheering us on during our performances.
We laughed at her crutches, we wished her well, and we hoped to see her out with us again, twirling her flag and smiling.
She always smiled.
Her senior year, she was the co-captain of the colorguard. Our song set that year was from the band Chicago, and the song “Make Me Smile” always got her going. She bounced her flag during the movements, laughing and smiling.
Soon after the incident with her ankle, it was discovered that my friend, Tiffany Black, had a rare form of bone cancer called Ewing’s Sarcoma.
Tiffany missed a lot of school due to her treatments. Her hair fell out, and she got a wig. When most seniors worried about drama, college, athletics, and the rigors of high school, my friend fought for her very survival. Her peers voted her the prom queen in May, but she was on crutches at that point because of the cancer attacking her body. She went to New York City with the band – but in a wheelchair.
Around her birthday in August, she was given a jet ski by a charitable organization. She only got to ride it for a short amount of time.
With the change of the seasons that year, life slowly faded from my beloved friend. In December, my friend lost her fight with cancer. I put a picture from our competition (with her smiling face, holding a trophy) in her casket.
She was 18 years old.
She is why I give.
She has one leg, and she makes jokes about it.
When people told her that she couldn’t, she did.
She’s my hero.
Her name is Kati, and I loved her the moment I met her.
She joined my sorority, and became my “Little Sister,” but I was the younger one – the one who could learn from this old soul.
She was diagnosed with Ewing’s Sarcoma at the age of eight. She went to Camp Sunshine and made friends. Those friendships supplied her heart with vigor and gave lifeblood to her soul.
But some of her friends didn’t make it. She experienced a childhood fraught with many heartaches .
The chemo was rough on her. Her heart was forever damaged. The doctors told her that she wouldn’t have children.
Today, she holds her daughter Kennedy in her arms every night, a living example of defied odds.
Kati isn’t ashamed of her condition. It means she made it – it means she survived. When children point and ask, she explains her condition in ways they can understand. She straps her baby in her carrier, grabs her crutches, and plows through life with a determination that I can only envy.
She is why I give.