Living with cancer

Suzanne Lindley was diagnosed with metastatic colon cancer 13 years ago at age 31. Since then she has become an ardent advocate for others living with cancer. She also writes about her life for CURE on occasion. This is one of those occasions. I wake up with cancer. I go to bed with cancer. It has been a daily happening for so many years, I no longer let it be the first, nor the last, thought of every day. It has robbed too much from too many that I know and love. Yet, there are friends that I have met because of it; heroes who have forever touched my life as cancer has shaped our days and changed our directions. The past few weeks have been interwoven with the tapestry of these friendships and the special people and circumstances that brought us together. I was at a LiveSTRONG Summit when I had the privilege of seeing Jonny Imerman for the first time. I soon became an Imerman Angel and found my angel, Kevin, and his wife Jen. Kevin is also living with stage IV colon cancer. His nickname is "Boa," shortened from Rocky Balboa and perfectly fitting! He has a strong will, a big heart, and embodies the meaning of LiveSTRONG!. We have been fortunate to meet in person several times....for the first time two years ago after a Dallas Cowboy gadme and most recently just months ago when he spent a few days with our family. In between, we have marched the Halls of Congress, written hope in Dallas, DC, Washington, and on top of Ol' Baldy, seen the beautiful falls in Spokane, and even climbed a small mountain! During the past two weeks, Kevin's struggle has been difficult. He and his family have weighed heavily on my mind. Kev has been in the hospital and at one point was not expected to survive. Jen hasn't left his side. A few days after this dire prediction I was happily reminded that there is no crystal ball as his voice greeted me on the phone. He assured me that he was a long way from giving up and that he would be spending Christmas with Jen and his girls. As he continues to recover, I marvel at his willpower. With Christmas just days away, I am now hopeful that he will not only be enjoying family - but celebrating in the comfort of his own home! Other angels have graced my life this week, too. A few months ago I was dreaming that YES! would be able to procure a public service announcement and in my search for support, Eric answered one of my phone calls. His benevolence and dedication actually made our PSA possible and it has already changed lives! Thank you, Eric and CBS!!! During our first conversation I learned Eric's dad is living with cancer. We shared both the obstacles and celebrations that cancer has put in our path. The pride and admiration he has for his parents was evident, and with every word I was inspired. Terry and I soon began talking on the phone, too. On Wednesday, I had the chance to hug Eric's neck and thank him personally for making a dream come true. We talked about hopes, plans, and his dad. On Friday, I got to meet Terry, who since that first conversation a few months ago has survived two brain surgeries, an abscess, a stroke, and a cardiac arrest. His determination is enough to encourage anyone! I am amazed by his each and every milestone. I gave him a picture of hope when we met and as I left, he said, "Hope....that is what we all have, isn't it? That and each other." His words have followed me the past few days, reminding me of how we help each other through the struggles, challenges, and fears. It is our patches of courage, tenacity, and strength that weave our lives together. As each day begins and ends, I am thankful for the blanket of hope....and friendship. Love, Suzanne