The last few weeks have been particularly tough for me mentally. After more than 6 years on my ‘bumpy journey,’ I have seen so many heart breaking situations, many personal, but plenty from friends and colleagues. I have often thought that I have experienced so much in the cancer environment, that there surely can’t be anything left that can shock me and pull on my heart strings. But there always is!!
Ironically, my personal health has been the steadiest it has been for some time. The good weather has finally arrived, and the constant threat of colds, flu and chest infections, has subsided for the time being. My maintenance treatment is keeping me mobile, and I am slowly peeping back into the real world again, although with caution, I might add!
Due to my commercial background, I consider myself to be in the ‘cancer business.’ It also feels like a business, because it is what I spend a lot of time on. As with any business, there are certain things that will always be part of your work. Unfortunately, in this environment, death is very much a part of what we do. Nobody wants that, but it is a fact. Given that this is the case, we must expect to deal with it.
How we deal with things when someone ‘passes,’ is unique. We will all have had different relationships with that person. Some of us will be closer than others, family and friends, then colleagues etc. There are no rules how we say goodbye, we all do it in our own way. Interestingly, now days, most ceremonies, have a religious basis, but things are even changing here. People are starting to personalise things, to reflect the wishes of the individual.
Yesterday, I was celebrating the life of an incredible young lady. I was fortunate to be a friend and colleague, and my personal experience of a stem-cell transplant was helping her through her own set of unique circumstances. In her young life she touched so many people, with her boundless energy, warmth, and enthusiasm. Even though she was going through her own personal trauma, she would be campaigning or fund raising for cancer charities.
In reality, she only lived, half an average life, but the things that she managed to achieve in such a short time, were probably more than most of us could manage in a lifetime. Her impact cut across generations, and there was such a mixed community to celebrate her life together. We were all recalling our favourite moments, of which there were many.
But this is not where the story ends,nor should it. Her legacy will live on! She has done so much campaigning in the cancer field, that you won’t have to look too far, to find a video or a magazine article written or presented by her. The impact she had on others was incredible. She certainly helped improve lives, whilst she was able to, and I’m sure that so many new lives will be positively changed in the future, by her work in the past.
I guess that when most of us think about the word legacy, it involves finance. For example, what we might leave for our children when we die. Since my life has been affected by cancer, my thoughts turned to my own legacy. I have been extremely lucky and have managed a few extra years beyond expectation. This has allowed me to put certain things in place which can hopefully continue, beyond my own life time.I am also trying to play my own small part in improving the lives of people affected by cancer in the future.
I am celebrating the lives of my friends who have died recently. They have had a massive impact in my own life and work, and will continue to. I know that their legacy will live on long into the future, and that their families are very proud of what they were able to do. I am so grateful, to have been a small part of their life too.
This post is dedicated to Bengu Shail, and her family. Thank you for being my friend, and for the legacy you have left us. A brilliant example of Bengu in action can be seen in this video please take a few moments to check it out.