Written by Tammy Cleys
Young Adult Cancer Series: These young adults were asked, how did it feel to learn your friend had been diagnosed with lung cancer?
I watched my friend come to work coughing and tired for much too long. Asking questions as to what trips to the doctor were yielding, I was disappointed but not surprised to learn that nothing was determined. Then, my young friend came to work saying she was coughing blood. I comforted myself with the thought that she would now have the attention of the medical profession. But, I never imagined the profession would come back with a something as sinister as lung cancer.
Kim was coming into her own as a talented and determined project manager. Lung cancer in someone so vibrant and fresh was not in my story card of how life works. I then watched as she fought through the hell of chemotherapy and radiation and returning to work. I watched her again physically struggle every day at work; so exhausted at the end of every day that I know she had only the energy to go home to rest for the next day of work. This is not the life I wanted or imagined for this wonderful, challenging, intelligent young woman. I was relieved when she determined her fight with cancer meant that she could not meet the demands of full-time work.
This meant that I saw less of my young and wondrous friend Kim. But, this was a larger transformation. This was the inspiring transformation of how I viewed the strength of Kim.
Kim was always strong of spirit and resolve. She was, however, also soft spoken and gentle of character unless called upon by conflict or “right” to be otherwise. Her physical presence was the more apparent attribute as she was so strong from rock climbing, physical fitness training, and outdoor activities. As the cancer stole her physicality, an inner-strength and rebellion took its place. The most apparent attribute became this young woman’s incredible fortitude to face a scourge that should not be lessening the life of anyone so young and vulnerable. She stood up to cancer in a small but loud voice and roared that cancer would not win today!
Yet, this is still not the person you see today. Kim continues with intelligence and tenacity to attack cancer. The strength is now tempered with a grace that comes, I believe, only from facing incredible odds and coming out the other side with a set of values, goals, and beliefs in place. She “attacks” things with a different tenacity…..it is deeper and more powerful than most, including me, realize in our more fortunate circumstances.
So, what is it like have a young friend with lung cancer who should not have to deal with this…..it is horrible……….but amazing in watching the person she is becoming.
We hope that we might someday become that person, yet most of us know we will not.