Tag Archive: courage


A close friend of ours was recently diagnosed with cancer.  She’s a farmer’s wife who has always been good to us and treated us like family.  She’s a second mother to me and the news hit with a ferocity unmatched by my own diagnosis.  I say that because, as with most things in life, we know what we can handle, but when the same infliction is paired with someone else, the doubt we shelved on our own behalf is more easily recovered.  

And then there’s an anger that resides in the memory of what it was like to survive cancer.  The horror of it, the fear that will emerge and the knowledge you can’t fight it for them.  At the same time, the experience of cancer can draw out strengths we didn’t know we had and it’s a comfort to know our friend will experience, in her hardest battle, a courage that everything else will, eventually, surrender to.  

When you are diagnosed, your battle isn’t to fight the disease, but to fight to remain in the moment; to stave off the need to know what lies ahead, to find solace supplied by each breath unaware, as we all are, whether ill or healthy, of what future we’ll meet around the next corner.  That is primary.

Secondary is our need to survive by whatever means we find acceptable.  And for those co-survivors, there are no sidelines.  It’s our duty to our loved ones that helps us focus on the here and now and survive alongside them.  We find our own courage – a word that reflects a strength that does not come from muscle or brawn, but from the heart.  And again, as I discovered emerging from my own illness, we find ourselves feeling fortunate having come to some understanding that we are all in this together.  And that is something cancer will never destroy.

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Gratitude

I was just re-reading some past entries and the encouraging comments readers made. It brought tears to my eyes to remember that battle, but more so to feel the love from friends, family and even strangers who are united in the same cause: To survive and beat this disease. The wisdom in the messages left by fellow bloggers was simple, yet profound: Snuggle your babies or do whatever reminds you of why your fighting so hard; take a break and let others help; take in each moment with gratitude; and my personal favorite, “FUCK CANCER.”

Not only did these words of comfort and advice resonate then, they resonate still. Your support crossed miles and is timeless. I am forever grateful for the courage our friends and family put forth, the research they did on their own to better understand blood cancers, the gentle hand in helping with our girls or preparing food to feed our family when Erick was working hard to step in where I left off. And my gratitude to my husband and children who did their best to make life “normal.” As I’ve often said, normal never felt so good!

There was a moment, after my first treatment, when I considered letting the disease take its course. The first treatment was horrible. I developed blisters inside my mouth and throat and was too weak to move or eat much. I hated myself for feeling so weak. Erick sat with me and tried to give me the next dose of Prednisone, but I told him “No more.” I was certain death would be a welcome reprieve to this misery. My husband persisted and we wrapped the pills in peanut butter and bread so they would go down easier. Reflecting on this moment, it was definitely my weakest, but with Erick’s help, it was also courageous. Everyone battling cancer learns early on that strength in this fight does not come from muscle, but from somewhere deeper. It emerges when we think we cannot move forward and carries us until we can stand on our own. We learn early on, we are stronger than we ever before imagined. And when we emerge outside our treatments, the challenges we face daily pale in comparison to our darker battles.

The things that stay with me today are not the difficulties of the treatments, but instead the kindness, the love and support; the greater journey that extends out before me.

With gratitude,  Samantha

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