Living life after a breast cancer loss is truly crushing. The memories of good times hurt; the memories of the cancer hurt; the idea of what should have been hurts more than you would ever have thought possible. And yet, you live. Do not waste a minute of it.
I had a large box of memories of Candice stored neatly away in our garage. Amazing memories of two best friends who were loyal, inseparable, told each other everything, never held back, inspired each other, and supported each other in the best and worst moments. For exactly 430 days, I could not bring myself to open that box – not after my best friend told me she was diagnosed with breast cancer.
I will never forget that anxiously awaited call from Candice with her biopsy results. The dreaded words “breast cancer” were a wild, remote possibility that I hardly thought twice about. Sure, people get breast cancer, but certainly not my best friend. Not a young mother to two amazing boys. Not a beautiful, independent, smart, healthy, athletic, vivacious, and amazing woman in the prime of her life.
The reality of those taboo words was difficult to comprehend, but we were forced to try and understand. Watching someone so close to you go through cancer and lose the battle is a strange and helpless feeling. It is difficult to put into words or express how something so tragic, unfair, and horrifying can happen to someone you love so much. It changed me forever.
Know Your Body
For all women reading this, I urge you to schedule yearly examinations and mammograms with your physician. Perform breast examinations monthly, and be proactive with your health. Candice did not have cancer in her family and was not positive for the BRCA gene, an inherited gene linked to breast cancer.
If you take anything away from this article, take action even earlier than the American Cancer Society Guidelines for Early Detection of Breast Cancer recommends. Do not hesitate to see your doctor if you do not feel right. Health is all that matters, and everything else is secondary and insignificant.
Please be proactive with your health.
We constantly see and hear tragic stories online, on the news, through friends, friends of friends, and family. Sometimes the stories hit home more than others. But for me, while the stories made me terribly sad, they always seemed distant from my own life.
Tragedy could not possibly happen to me or my loved ones.
Watching my closest friend in the world suffer with cancer at such a young age, and so unfairly lose the battle, has made me more realistic, humble, and grateful.
Unfortunately, tragedy does not discriminate. It doesn’t care how young you are or if you have babies or if you are a wife or a loving daughter. Tragedy can happen to anyone, and we are no exception. With this realization, I have truly become so much more appreciative of the little moments, my family, my friends, and my health.
Wisdom in Pain
Candice had so many dreams and ambitions tragically taken from her. Do not waste another moment dreaming or wanting something and waiting for a better time. Go for it! Do not let fear, circumstances, other people’s opinions, or convenience stop you. Do not waste another moment being unhappy. If you are not happy, do something about it, and make a change in your life. Tomorrow is never promised. Happiness, passion, and love are truly important in life.
Kiss and hug your children, loved ones, friends, and family every day. Tell them how much they mean to you. Never take them for granted. At the end of the day, your career, social status, money, and material items are not important. The people you love are what really matter in your day-to-day life. When you leave this world and say goodbye, they will be the ones holding your hand and calming your fears.
Closure After a Breast Cancer Loss
On Candice’s birthday following her loss with breast cancer, I finally brought myself to go through the box sitting and staring at me in our garage. I relived unbelievable memories of an amazing friendship with someone who was truly the best person I have ever known. Young, beautiful, ambitious, smart, funny, the best mother, wife, daughter, and friend. I miss her so much and not a day goes by that I do not think of her or am not impacted by her life, her death, and everything she has taught me.
Candice, you are missed and loved by so many. You have changed and impacted so many lives, and you continue to inspire me and so many others every day.
I love you, Candice.
How Can You Help Fight the War Against Breast Cancer
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