Just in the past few days, I have been reminded over-and-over that life is fragile...that it is full of tragedies and sadness. But, as I have seen so many times in my life, I have also been shown that there is something even greater than sickness and death and tragedy and cancer. It's the will of the human spirit to find joy and strength and courage in the midst of it all. And that just amazes me!
We had a wonderful time at our annual Halloween Bunko game last night and that amazing spirit was on display right there in front of me! Our friend, Andrea, was just diagnosed with cancer over a month ago. She has had two rounds of chemotherapy and has already lost her hair. She was there last night and looked fabulous!! She was decked out as an 8os Girl--complete with her "Flashdance"-style torn shirt and electric blue eyeshadow. And the sassiest wig around!
She amazes me!
This comes on the heels of getting another email from my great friend, Debby, with the words "Health Update" in the subject line. It always takes me a few hours to get the courage up to open up those emails, because I'm never really sure if I want to read what it says. Debby (who was one of my very best friends in junior high in Arkansas; she and I cheered together and were in church youth group together) has a very advanced stage of cervical cancer that she has battled for more than three years. And, let me tell you, she has gone through the ringer! She has taken lots of very high dosages of medicine, has lost her hair several times, has gotten good news that it was in remission, only to have it come back stronger again, even had to travel to Houston (she lives outside Austin) once a week to take a new, experimental drug that they hoped would finaly beat it. This last health update was a mixed bag of news; the good news was that her levels were at the same place; they hadn't gotten worse. The bad news was that her cancer had not gone away at all; it's just hanging out.
But Debby is the most unbelievable example of faith and spirit that you could ever imagine! For the last two years she has participated in the Lance Armstrong bike ride for cancer. It's a 100-mile race and she did it last year WHILE on CHEMO!! (This year, she admitted that she'd have to cut back to the 50-mile race, because she just doesn't have the same energy!) Let me tell you--you couldn't get me on a bike ride for 5 miles while in my best physical condition. She is just a ball of energy and determination and positivity. And her faith is amazing; she truly feels like God is there for her in all of the directions her life goes. She's told me she's absolutely "certain"in whatever God wills for her life.
She amazes me!
Then just yesterday I learned two other pieces of news that was hard to take. One my Mom's best friends died after battling breast cancer for years; and then last night at Bunko we found out that one of our Bunko pals, Freddie, had just lost a 16-year-old granddaughter the day before to a heart attack. But there was Freddie...rolling the dice, trying to keep a smile on her face.
I have been through some hard times in my life....times when I really didn't think I'd be able to wake up and face the next day...but I've never dealt with anything as hard as what these friends of mine are growing through right now. So I look to them as amazing examples of what I'd like to be when times like these inevitably come my way (because you know they will).
I want to be amazing like them!
(And, by the way...I have some OUTSTANDING pictures of Andrea and Freddie and all of us all dolled-up from Bunko last night. There is NOTHING like hanging out and laughing with girlfriends and we had a blast. I want to share pictures with all of you, and will probably upload some later on today! But for now I wanted to share what I'm feeling this morning...and hope that it inspires you today to reach out to a friend who may be going through hard times, and to challenge yourself to always be postive and grateful!)