Good morning friends. I wanted to share Gabriela Salerno-Adams post not only because I’ve looked up to her since high school and her devotion and spirit to all things lifting the human heart (which I’m sure guided her husband and their family through so much of his journey) but also because I know there isn’t a single person on my friends list who hasn’t been affected by cancer.
When you’re sick with a diagnosis that hit you with the same odds of the likelihood of a snow storm in Vegas your goal simply becomes waking up. Overnight. Less skateboarding and senior prom (he made it) more hospitals and “We’re going to do all we can to not amputate your legs.”
My cousin Noah Hannum had a lot of tests. A lot of surgeries. A lot of pain. I wish I could ask him what he would’ve done now in retrospect but the one thing I didn’t have to ask him is how much he loved his 20 years. Cancer doesn’t discriminate, it will take you before you’re ready and for some it feels like it takes you before your heart stops. I am lucky in that I didn’t have to see the chemo pump through Noah’s heart but I will never forget the messages he sent me from hospital rooms in Texas and Atlanta and Delaware. How he was the most concerned with the toll the search for a cure was taking on his family. The fact that my Uncle wasn’t eating as much though he, being Noah, was quick to remind me it was indeed hospital food. As his options dimmed he started asking his family to remember the phrase “life goes on.” He was exhausted. He never gave up. The front page of the pamphlets handed out as his funeral (at his request) repeated that same phrase. “Life goes on.”
Cancer took him the day after his 20th birthday after being diagnosed after hurting his leg in lacrosse his senior year of high school. It is so important to recognize there are some things we can’t explain and to allow ourselves to let those struck by cancer to seek treatment in whatever way they want (or don’t). There is now a wing named after my cousin at the children’s hospital he died in. The nurses told my mother that he would seek out the scared newly diagnosed patients and comfort them through his birth given talent of making people laugh (even when they thought they didn’t want to).
I know Noah would have loved to have someone like Ryan to look up to through his journey and through reading Gabriela’s posts I have felt like in a way, he did know him. Cancer is the very word it inhabits, a cancerous common bond no one wishes to share. But in their pain and the unfairness of it all comes those who are grateful for these days in ways I hope no one else in my life will ever understand.
I remain awe struck by my cousin and his unwavering devotion to the sacred number of candles on a birthday cake. He made it to 20. Not a day to spare. I carry that with me, and with each number on my own cake the sentiment stings a little sweeter. The most bitter sweetest kind of hug I can imagine.
I find comfort and joy in Ryan’s victory and what that means for my friend and his loved ones and for my cousin’s memory. Life is a gift. A Cinderella glass slipper kind of gift that is so rare and so temporary and so special that the clock is eternally able to strike midnight.
I am reminded to seek out my truths. Seek out each other. Seek out the Noahs and the Ryans and the Gabrielas and people who lift your heart up. Please take the time to explore her story and remember that some things can’t be explained in the best kind of way. “I dare to seek a great perhaps”… Remember the day we die isn’t as predictable as the day we were born. I am inspired by those who have left and those who remain.
The human heart will never cease to amaze me. So if nothing else let this be a reminder yours is still pumping. Cheers to the Adam’s family and all of the other souls who can celebrate that! #fuckcancer #Fawkes #neverforget#lifegoeson
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