May 16, 2017, was a day that changed my life forever. It was the day that cancer took away my best friend at the tender age of only 22 years old. Melissa was not just a regular friend; she was amazing. She was truly like a sister to me. She was so loyal, so kind, and always by my side no matter what crazy thing was happening. I knew we could get through anything together.
She was first diagnosed with cancer at the age of 16. Over the course of the next 7 years, I watched her suffer through 3 different types of cancer, 4 different times. I was by her side through all the surgeries, the chemo and radiation, and all the at-home movie nights when she was just too exhausted to get out of bed. I listened to her vent her frustrations, cry through her worries, and celebrate her steps forward. Every step along the way, whether it was her journey or mine, we had each other to lean on.
This may help you understand why I was so devastated when her husband called me at 7:30 AM on the morning of May 16, 2017, to tell me that she had passed away a few hours previous. It seemed so unreal to me, in that moment. How can this person I’ve spent the last decade of my life with just be gone? How is that even possible? I knew this day was coming, though. I know it for a few months, but that didn’t take away from the fact that it seemed so completely wrong for such a sweet soul to have to suffer so much and be taken away so soon. I could spend hours telling you about the 10 years I had with this amazing human being, but that’s not my purpose. I want to share with you what this experience has taught me because it has completely changed my life.
Melissa was the type of person who always seemed to know exactly who she was. She was always so fearless about it, too. I know she had some insecurities, but she lived her life as if she didn’t. She did what she wanted to do and forged her own path, no matter what anyone else thought about it. She lived her life so fearlessly despite all the things she had to fear and now that she’s gone, I’m hoping that I am able to carry on that legacy for her. She showed me how truly short and precious life is, and how important it is to live your life the way you want to, and not the way others expect you to. After all, no one gets out of this life alive, so why not live it? It’s important to be smart about the decisions you make, but life is so satisfying when you do things your way. And that’s exactly what I plan to do. I’ve always felt like I’m different from most people; I used to fear that, but Melissa showed me how to embrace it. She has given me the strength to be myself, and to have the courage to listen to my heart instead of other people’s misguided opinions. Now, every time I get upset, I think of her and it helps me to stay in the moment. It reminds me to share this message with the world and hope that others can take some inspiration from how I live my life and carry it with them in theirs.