Beyond Sadness

I’m a little emotional tonight.

At the end of last week I received the story of my donor’s stem cell donation which I will be sharing on my blog in the next coming little while. A couple of weeks ago I had started a draft post encouraging those around me, especially my friends and extended family who are in the demographic to apply for the OneMatch bone marrow registry.

In this post I included the stories of Kevin Butterfill, the son of my at-home nurse during my cancer treatments who has now, after surviving testicular cancer, been diagnosed with my very own AML and Matthew Shcreindorfer, another Montreal native who crowd-funded a million+ dollars for experimental treatment for a rare form of blood cancer.

Before I could publish that post I read on social media today that over this past weekend Matthew has passed on. My heart breaks. I had been following his story for years and through first-hand experience could somewhat relate to the endless hospital stays and the hunt for a successful treatment.

When my sister was diagnosed with non-hodgkins lymphoma at 18, I was a mere going-on 13 years old and I was told she would be just fine and reassured by my parents she would survive. She had one of the “good” cancers — whatever that means. Ten months later, my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer and would continue into remission but a relapse a few years later would eventually lead to her untimelyΒ death.

This is not a sob story.

There were countless moments of strength, and it forced conversations that otherwise may have never come to fruition. We are all affected by cancer in some direct or indirect way whether it be a family member, a friend or a story we hear in the media. During my own treatments Steve Jobs and Jack Layton of the NDP, both visionaries of my time, passed away from cancer and it was only a stark reminder that none of us is immune and we need to hold onto dear life as it exists.

Please remember today and everyday that life is fragile. I guess I forget some days, being so far removed from my own cancer journey that we are all vulnerable and have limited time on this planet. I went on a young adult cancer retreat or “cancer-camp” as we cancer kids like to call it, where I heard horror stories of cancer journeys from the otherwise healthy young-adults who were now or just had been fighting for their lives. This is a club we did not ask to belong to, and although that weekend it brought us all together, in every other way it made us so far apart from our counterparts; our friends, our family, our coworkers, our love interests.

Hear my plea for you: donate blood and platelets and ask about the bone marrow registry. The Asian and Black communities are especially under-represented. You could save a life. Tell your loved ones how you feel, express yourself every day and live your truest life. I have infinite love for this world, as horrible as it can sometimes seem but hope is not lost. We can make the most of the time we have here and have the greatest opportunity of our lives to shape the world for the future. It truly is a gift and we all share it.

Love you all immensely,

xo

Ashlinn

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