We are all fighting in our own way

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Hi, my name is Tara and I am a proud wife and mother of two wonderful children. In my previous blog for Team 9/64, I wrote about why I am participating in the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer again this year. I am walking for those who have lost their fight and for my family and friends that I can still fight for. In the past two years, cancer has changed my life drastically. I lost my mother to cancer two years ago and although I miss her terribly, I have grown as a person and feel that cancer brought this change on. Cancer has been both good and bad for me.

My mom taught me from an early age to always give back to others and be generous. After my mother’s death, I began to realize I needed to do more with my own life and the values I am trying to instill in my children. My mother was under the care of Hospice prior to her passing. Every day for weeks I observed, quietly in my mother’s home and then at Hospice, the amazing group of people that make up this organization. The level of care and dignity provided is unsurpassed. I have since become a volunteer for them and have developed wonderful relationships along the way. I give back to my community whenever asked and offer what gifts I have so others can benefit. Talking to my 6 year old this weekend, I asked him what cancer meant to him, just out of curiosity. He said, “Cancer is helping somebody who is sick and being nice to them.” My little man is already a caregiver at an early age, reminiscent of Hospice to me.

So that is my story. There is sadness and pain, but also happiness and love brought on by cancer. For me personally, I found “my new normal.” Everyone used this term when speaking to me when I was the bereaved. As a hospice volunteer, I feel like I use this term often to try and comfort bereaved clients. My new normal has taken over 2 years, but I am close. I was angry and sad and didn't look at myself as a fighter for the cause because, quite simply, cancer sucks! I can now get through a conversation without my heart breaking. That wasn't the case even 6 months ago. I do look at myself as a fighter these days. I want to battle this disease, find a cure and end the loss for everyone. Cancer can be positive or negative but everyone has a story.

In a way, cancer unites us all and represents something to everyone. We have all either heard of it or lived through it. You may be the patient, caregiver, spouse, partner, child, sibling or friend. Whatever role you play, on some level we are all united by cancer. I feel is important for all of our voices to be heard. It is therapeutic for the storyteller and the reader. I want their voices to be represented since this is my last Avon Blog for the team. I asked some of my close family and friends how cancer has played a role in their lives. Whether a word, a blurb or a story, we all have a something to say. Some are happy and some are sad. We are all fighting in our own way. Here are a few:

Ashley wrote:
My mom's best friend passed away from breast cancer on 8-10-13 after battling for 6 years. She was like a second mom to me, and her youngest son, who was my age, even called my mom "Aunt Vicki." The priest at her funeral said something though that will always stick with me. He said, "Cancer may have won the battle over her body, but it never claimed her spirit nor will it ever have her soul." I don't know why that was the one thing I remember, but it helped me come to terms with what had happened.

Cara wrote: 
My grandmother had always been the light of my life. I would spend a week at her lake cabin every summer and I’m sure I returned 10 pounds heavier from all of her good home-cooked meals. She catered to everything that I could ever want. She joked about how the magic of her macaroni and cheese could always conjure up a phone call or visit from me! On one of my trips home, I remember visiting her and noticing things in her house were starting to feel run down. She just didn’t have that pep in her step. Within the next couple of months, we found out she had lung cancer and within a few months, she was gone. In her final days, we spent time talking and just holding hands. I was so happy she could see me at a point in my life where things were coming together. I had just gotten married and finished my college degree. I’ll never forget the moment when she put her hand on mine and said, “I’ll miss seeing you have babies and watching them grow up, you have always been the one person that was the most special to me in the whole world.”

Edna wrote:
Cancer can be devastating, but God can and will take a situation and use it for His glory in our lives. Praying for a cure.

Melissa wrote:
For me, cancer means loss. I wish I could focus on the bravery of the people fighting for their lives, but all that keeps coming to mind is what is taken from them and their families. I don't ever expect a happy outcome anymore - I always expect the worst. I just found out my Aunt Nancy's breast cancer has spread. Waiting to find out what the next course of treatment is, but it's not looking good. So for me, today, cancer is a b*&ch.

Summer wrote:
Let’s “CAN” Cancer…it isn’t wanted anymore! Cancer SUCKS and those who experience it are the HEROES!

Teri wrote:
I am a daughter, niece and granddaughter to 3 brave and strong women who each battled breast cancer. As a result, in my early teens I began to replace the word "if" with the word "when." "WHEN I get breast cancer someday..." For years, this was how I spoke about the disease and my personal connection to it. Fast forward nearly 30 years, I am a married mother of 2 young children and exactly 3 years older than my mother at the time of her diagnosis.  "When" suddenly isn't so far away. It could be here any day. With each mammogram, I wonder if today will be the "when."  The good news is I am not a victim. In a strange way, I have been given a gift by my mother, aunt and grandmother for which I am grateful. Because of them I am taking control of my health, doing everything to ensure the day of "when" is caught as early as possible and I will survive it. I am at peace with all of this, until I look into my daughter's eyes.  God willing, we will find a cure for this disease so she will never have to live a life of "when."

I hope that you will join me in this cause and support Team 9/64 as we do what we can to make a difference. The more of us who walk, the more of us survive! Join us or donate today at AvonWalk.org.