Burn brighter

by Hilla Duka


This morning a young woman died. She was a mother and a wife, beloved by so many, and she had fought long and hard to keep her breast cancer at bay. As I read the update by her husband, big warm tears fell down my cheeks, this overwhelming sadness that this day had to come. I had never met Ewa, but she warmly welcomed me into the sad society of cancer patients when I was first diagnosed, gave advice and offered experience. I watched her appear on Swedish program Agenda, to ring up the debate on why different countries have different rules on which medicines to give. She spoke of her friend, who didn’t get the same medicine as she had, and who had now passed away. She spoke of how she called her friend one day, but her phone was answered by her husband, who told her that her friend had passed away during the night. And now it is her own husband who has to inform people that it is she who has passed away. I think about the fact that unless I become the extreme miracle, one day Ilir will have to post the last post for this site, to tell you all that I have died.


The unfairness of this illness overwhelms me at times. We are young mothers, juggling careers and kids and a love life and friends, and this horrid disease kills anyone, no matter how loved or important to others. Before their time, without having been given the chance to play out their part. And left behind are mourning partners, children too small to understand, or at least should be too small to be forced to understand, brothers and sisters who’ll battle this death for the rest of their lives, living on with survivors guilt, mothers and fathers who shouldn’t have to bury their daughters, friends left hollowed.


When I first found out I had cancer, my initial reaction was “Not me! This can’t be right, I have small children to take care of, to be there for!” I have sadly learned since then, that cancer doesn’t care. And no matter how I rage against it, I can’t change this. I can’t change it, but I can’t accept it either.


I spend so much time meditating these days, and it’s truly brought me closer to understanding the vastness of life, of mind. I think it’s extremely hard to discuss mental/ spiritual experiences - if the person you’re discussing it with hasn’t felt anything like it, it’s hard to communicate and really get across your experience, so for now I’ll leave that area untouched. At the same time, much of what I write here is for the benefit of my boys in order for them to one day get to know more of me, so one of these days I will have to try to write that down. For now, I’ll leave it with saying that my meditating experience has left me sound in my belief that it is not the person leaving this life that suffers, but those left in it. Today, my thoughts go to Ewas family, indeed to all the lives she touched, that will be hollowed by her absence.


It is my firm belief that one day, cancer will no longer be a life threatening disease. That one day, there will be effective treatments for it, but we are not there yet. Only by allowing greater funding for cancer research can we get there, and while we wait, people are dying. Please consider donating to cancer research to help speed up the process! Help us burn brighter, for longer.  


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