The Heartache of Being a Young Cancer Survivor

Today, I feel compelled to write about the heartache of being a young cancer survivor. Many might think that receiving the label of ‘cancer survivor’ brings feelings of pure elation and ultimate bliss. Don’t get me wrong; my world turned from scattered thunderstorms to warm, sunny skies. Yet, not every day is euphoric.

Some days, my heart hurts and the world feels heavy. Those are the days when I’ve lost a friend.

One of the hardest things about being a young cancer survivor is simply ‘being young’. Young people are supposed to explore the world and experience life fully, not sit in oncology wards getting pumped full of drugs. As a young cancer fighter, I felt isolated and alone. I didn’t have any friends or knowledge of other people my age going through what I was. I felt like an outcast.

Fortunately, I reached out to Young Adult Cancer Canada (a kick-ass support group!) and took to social media. I needed that feeling of togetherness. I needed familiarity. I needed my youth.

I surrounded myself with fellow young adult cancer fighters. My network of friends exploded, and it was wonderful. I met the most incredible, kind-hearted, perseverant and superhuman people in the entire world. My loneliness faded, and I finally felt at home.

In retrospect, I wish I would have realized that some of us wouldn’t make it. Some of us would pass on, and some of us would have to move on. It breaks my heart to be writing this right now, but I wish that I could have prepared myself for the heartache that I’ve experienced. The deep pain of losing a friend, again and again. It never gets easier, and it never will.

This past year, I’ve lost five dear friends.

Nicole, Justin, Kim, Danielle and Jody

Each one of these five super-humans continued to push and push through the darkness. They never ever gave up, despite the odds. I am honoured to have had the chance to connect with such empowering people.  They were truly one-of-a-kind… Nicole’s warmth, Justin’s ambition, Kim’s bright smile , Danielle’s heart of gold, and Jody’s unwavering sense of humour.

Nicole, Justin, Kim, Danielle, Jody and other friends who have gone too soon,

this is for you.

My heart goes out to your family,

they didn’t deserve to lose you so young.

My heart goes out to your friends,

of which you should still be among.

And my heart goes out to you,

because, you, you deserve more than the cards you were flung.

 

My light,

you are my light.

When times get hard,

I think of your fight.

You may be gone,

but you still shine bright.

I just wish you could,

come home tonight.

What brings me peace is knowing that each of you have gained your wings. Now, there is proof that you are super-humans. May you rest peacefully, and live on in all of the lives that you have touched.

My unconditional love,

Emily

xo

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