A woman with an arm around a friend who is fading away

Grieving Those on the Journey

Last updated: August 2021

Part of living is unfortunately dying. Why so many are taken too soon is beyond me. Our lung cancer community has lost so many in recent days. Some of them I connected with and knew and others I didn’t know. Either way, it stings.

When we hear of someone dying in a car accident, we don’t even think about it the next time we get in our own cars. However, on this lung cancer journey, when you hear of someone running out of treatments and time, it stings and has a great impact upon us.

Loosing a dear friend

If I could just be honest, it plants a seed of fear and makes me think about my own end-stage. It’s extremely difficult to walk this cancer journey and grieve someone that once walked a cancer journey alongside you that was taken too soon. I have mentioned my sweet friend, Leigh Ann previously that transitioned out of this world due to breast cancer and even 6 months later the grief and the confusion of it all is very fresh and raw and real.

I went to visit her resting place. I stood in silence and wondered what she might be doing today if still on this side of heaven. She was an attorney and I am sure that she would be solving problems for people. She’d be fighting to grant adoptions and divorces. She might have been out in her incredibly beautiful pool studying cases. She would definitely be bossing her husband and planning the next party for her family or those golf boys as she loved a party of any kind. It still doesn’t seem real and it still just is not fair—nothing is fair on a cancer journey. Ever.

We both faced cancer diagnoses

When I was diagnosed with lung cancer, she was diagnosed with breast cancer a mere four days after. I’ll be honest—I wished at the time that I had breast instead because I thought it was the cancer to beat. I thought with all the research and the "pink outs" at sporting events and all the awareness and funding that surely that was the cancer to beat. My friend was going to beat it and be ok and I would be the one to go.

No—not at all how it worked. When you are on this journey you come to the cold, hard realization that cancer of any kind doesn’t care who you are, what you do, what you have to live for—not nothing! It creeps in like a thief in the night and robs us and our family and literally murders us.

I had someone who understood my journey

I had a weirdly selfish feeling of relief when she too was diagnosed. I wasn’t celebrating, but I was thankful that I wasn’t alone. We had each other walk this thing together. Completely different journeys, but also the same. This was my friend in real life. This wasn’t someone that I met on social media or through a zoom call while I am grateful for those relationships as well. This was my friend before cancer ever entered our lives.

We understood each other and the things that got on our nerves quick and fast and the GI flares and the scaniexties and the stuff that you have to laugh about that’s really embarrassing and only WE understood it. We could also talk about the cold hard reality of what might happen. I asked her one time when I was literally gripped with fear if she was afraid of leaving this earth—she said she’d not thought of it one time and wasn’t afraid. I was completely debilitated at the beginning from just the utter thought of the end of life. It still isn’t fun, but I try to push it away when those thoughts begin to cripple me.

Even through the grief, we keep fighting

My friend is missed so much along with all of the others that we have lost in this community just this year. It’s so very confusing to grieve your own life due to cancer, but it is completely different grief to grieve the loss of someone who was also walking in a cancer journey that you called a friend or even family.

She and the rest of our friends won that day! No more cancer, no more sorrow, no more pain, no more fear, no more anxieties. Losing a loved one brings so many questions with few answers. We likely have some of the same questions for ourselves. I often find myself asking how did I even get here. Somehow we keep going. We keep prevailing. We keep fighting.

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