She Was More than Cancer

LindaIt’s been year now since my sister succumbed to the ravages of cancer and the void is as fresh as the first day. I suspect it will always be so. Linda left us with her fighting spirit, her easy laugh and her love and devotion to all things good in this world. Over our last real conversation, she talked of the future, her future; she had not long passed her five-year mark of recovery and she was full of hope and possibility. As was her nature, she always looked forward, never back.


I had always looked up to my sister, but that day she became my hero. Over the span of my life, she taught me my first dance steps; we spent hours one lazy summer afternoon creating a choreographed dance routine for no other reason than our own enjoyment. Other days we would gleefully jump around in her room while listening to the Jackson Five, the Supremes, Stevie Wonder and countless other Motown favorites. I like saying that she forced me into joining her while she create intricate stories which gave life to her Barbie and Ken dolls, but the truth is I enjoyed the time we spent together immensely. We played tag and chased each other, we Hula-hooped and climbed. During more serious times we kept each other’s secrets.


Linda was five years older the me and as soon as I learned to speak, I discovered my primary role was to keep her entertained – it was a role I grew to relish; I would make up jokes and tell outlandish tales just to make her laugh and I would do so until tears would stream down her cheeks. She was always my best audience. We were a tightly knit trio, Linda, my brother and I, we were from New York and did not adapt well to the traditions of the South. We became our own gang of sorts, but in a good way. Linda nominated and consented herself the leader, so we nicknamed her Big Louie; I think it was because of the old black and white gangster films we watched incessantly. She delighted in that role and even well into adulthood she would assume that persona. It is serendipitous how the characters we play as children become part of the personalities we display as adults.


Linda may have lost her battle with Cancer, but she was a winner in the game of life; she never took days off from it, never cried foul over its injustices and always, always looked forward to more.


When it comes to the people you love don’t wait until October; more than 230,000 women and over 2,200 men will be diagnosed with invasive breast cancer in 2014. Learn and talk about risks and prevention together. If you or someone you know has been diagnosed, learn and talk about treatment together. If you have lost someone to Cancer, be free to share their stories about the gifts they left before their spirits moved on.


~ Richard

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