A friend of a friend lost her 41-year-old cousin to breast cancer on Sunday. She shared with me the following letter her cousin wrote three years ago, near the anniversary of her diagnosis.
Wow … can you believe that it has been eight years since we first met? Some days it seems as if it was only yesterday. I have so many mixed feelings about our relationship, it is truly a love/ hate situation. I hate the fact that we ever had to meet but in some strange way I love that we can live together and I am grateful for some of the things that you have taught me over the years.
I need to touch on the reasons for my hatred towards you, you have taken so many things from me. Whether you know it or not you have taken away a part of my daughter’s childhood — she has been forced to deal with situations that only grown ups should have to deal with. You have made it really difficult for me to have certain dreams and goals for fear that I may never realize them. You have stolen my ability to have more children and build a larger family. You have physically beaten me down time and time again not to mention the emotional toll that you take on me on a daily basis. From day one you have been on my mind every day and as much as I want to forget the fact that I know you it is impossible.
There are days when I wake up and my hatred for you is almost overwhelming, it may be that I am sick of going to all of these appointments, or that I am tired of being in pain or it might be as simple as me missing being able to be a free spirit and not having our “friendship” always hanging over my head. I wish I could for one moment forget that we ever met … but the reality is that we did .. for reasons that I will never understand and truthfully never fully accept.
For eight long years I have done my best to get rid of you and just wonder why you are so damn persistent. I mean I know that I am a fun person to hang around with but sometimes you just have to take a hint! Don’t get me wrong I am very thankful for the lessons you have taught me. You have shown me how to love unconditionally, how to forgive completely, how to always have hope and embrace the little things in life. You have opened my eyes to so many beautiful things in this world that one can only appreciate after having known you. You have given me the drive to help others who are in similar situations, to give of myself and make a difference in the lives of others and I will never forget that.
It looks like we are in this together for the long haul whether I like it or not and I am accepting of this, but you had better be prepared because well the truth is I can be a bitch at times and I am used to getting my way. I don’t give up easy and am always up for a good fight. Did I mention that I have great friends and family behind me every step of the way? Well, I do and we are a package deal so just be prepared … we can get crazy at times!
For the past eight years I have wondered off and on why you chose me? I no longer want to know why, the fact is that for whatever reason you did and it is up to me how I deal with it. Every day will be a challenge and I am prepared for this.
As much as I don’t like you, you have ultimately made me a stronger person and being strong is what will carry me through. Here’s to at least another eight years!