“I don’t know any better way to say this, but its cancer”.
What we’d been most terrified of had come true. I felt my stomach bottom out and began to cry. How could something like cancer happen to someone like Kayla? As decent human beings, we’d never wish this disease on anyone, but for it to happen to one of the most joyous people I’ve met, was unfathomable. As I drove to work that day, I sobbed to Garth Brooks; nothing terrified me more than the thought of losing one of my best friends. Kayla encouraged me through tough times in my life, we’d been roommates, we’d walked the city of Chicago. Her life had just been turned upside down. A woman who is young, active, and leads a healthy lifestyle is certainly not someone that anyone would expect to receive this diagnosis; but the reality is that cancer affects us all.
Once I’d arrived at work, everyone could tell something was up. My boss pulled me aside to ask what was wrong. I choked out “its cancer” and she started to cry. She had recently lost her dog to cancer and, unfortunately, knew exactly how I felt. Throughout this process, I’ve come to find that everyone knows someone fighting the fight. We’re able to connect with strangers and know that they’ve felt this way before. Being able to share Kayla’s story with all of the people I speak to in a day has really helped the healing process. I think we’ve all learned to evaluate our lives a little differently, to appreciate more, thanks to Kayla. Cancer affects us all.
From hotel parties, to “Double Kaylas”, to a Blackhawks clad march down a chilly Evanston sidewalk, Kayla has epitomized making lemonade out of lemons. Who else would have invented “themo”? Kayla had to be strong for herself; but I think she knew that she had to be strong for the rest of us, too. As this chapter of her journey, our journey, comes to a close, I still have a hard time talking about it all without crying (but I cry at episodes of Modern Family, so make of that what you will). Finally, they are tears of joy. It’s truly amazing to recognize how far you’ve come, Kayla. In life, we have to believe that we are dealt the hands we’re given because we are strong enough and brave enough to overcome them. You’ve inspired all of us to be our best selves, to find joy everywhere, and taught us that love conquers all. Sometimes for the worse, but in this case I truly believe for the better, cancer affects us all.
I love you so much, thank you for being a bridesmaid, a survivor, and a friend. Let’s book that celebratory trip to Vegas.