There are too many to list. If I do I will forget someone's name. And I don't want to forget anyone.
I have met a lot of women since my first diagnosis in September of 2001. Countless strangers who became my sisters, who became my strength. What would have I done without you all?
I was diagnosed a few days before 9/11. I was stuck in Manhattan on that fateful day. Because of those two life altering events occurring at the same time, I have always considered them to be the same in that not only was our country attacked out of the blue, so was I.
I view cancer as a terrorist. It hides among the population and sneaks in unnoticed. It then starts to create a terror cell designed to kill and nothing else. It has no purpose but death. The terrorists who we are fighting across the world are the same. They want us dead and nothing else. That war is being fought far away from home, by brave men and women who are willing to give up their lives for this nation. God bless each and everyone of them.
My terror war was won the first time. I think. At least, I know I killed off enough of the cells to keep me disease free for five years. That is a victory. This new cancer is a different one from the first so I have a whole new set of terrorists trying to win. Defeat is not an option for me. And I will give as good as I get. I will fight with every weapon my medical team has. And I will kill each and every one of the terror cells inside me. No matter how hard it is on me - Life is worth it.
But then there are my sisters, the sweet young moms, the teachers and retired nurses, the grandmothers and the daughters who fought just as hard as I am trying to and medicine has failed them. THEY did not lose a single battle. The medical world did. Every one of the women I have known over these years who has fought this disease has gone out swinging. Cancer beat medicine - not them.
I miss them. I miss their hope. I miss their capacity to see beyond a dire diagnosis and continue to live in the today. I miss being able to pray for a miracle for them. I miss the laughter. I miss all of my sisters who went before me. May there be a special place in heaven for them to be received and loved with lots of room for the others to join them.
On this Memorial Day, I thank every veteran and hero of every battle waged for the United States of America.
But I also honor every brave warrior angel who has been drafted into a battle she never should have been asked to fight. I hold her children as they now live without her. I comfort her family as they try to understand. I take the hand of her parents as they say, "This is not the way it is supposed to be."
For every one of us fighting today, we must continue and never relent. We must always think of cancer as our ultimate enemy and remember every little victory we win over the Beast is cheered in heaven by a group of the most beautiful angels you would ever see.
Fight for them. Endure that treatment because you know they would have wanted you to win. And remember, as much as we are the same, we are all different . That is the sadness of this - many of us will survive what our sisters could not. But true warrior angels want us to win even if they couldn't. Every time cancer cannot get the better of us it is a victory celebrated in heaven and earth.
We can fight and we can win. And through it all, we will never, ever forget our sisters who went before us.
" And so we beat on. Boats against the current. Borne back ceaselessly to the past."
F. Scott Fitzgerald