This is a picture of family. Of happiness. Of strong Italian looks. Of love. Of a fighter.
My grandma Joan’s love for life and all of its treasures was evident to me even at my young age of 7 or 8. I remember her vibrant jewelry, unique yet classic sense of fashion, her soothing voice, her “I need seconds immediately” spinach lasagna, and her warm smile.
What I don’t remember though, was her showing any signs of weakness or illness when she was around me. What I don’t remember was at any time seeing my Grandma Joan surrender to her cancer.
I was too young to truly know what was going on at the time. If my parents told me about it, I don’t remember. Chances are I was in my head somewhere, daydreaming as children so often do at that age. Even as I was taken to visit her in the hospital, I remember clearly that I had no idea why she was sick. I didn’t know what cancer meant or what it did. I just couldn’t figure out what had happened.
My Grandma Joan lost her battle to colon cancer before I got the chance to really get to know her and learn from her. Before I got to be of age where I could learn how to make her famous meatballs and sauce, from the great chef herself. Before I was old enough to retain stories she had about acting, dancing, and meeting all the eccentric and interesting people I’m sure she met. I know I listened to her– as children listen to their elders–because I’ll tell ya, even as tiny as she was, people knew not to mess with her. (I like to think that part of my gumption and strong backbone is due to her) But I was never old enough to truly listen to her. I missed out on stories I’m sure she would’ve told me about my dad’s childhood and her childhood as well. Stories that I would be able to share as I got older.
Now, I’d like to say that my Grandma Joan is the only person in my family who has been affected by cancer. I’d like to say that none of my friends have lost a grandparent or relative due to cancer, like I have.
Sadly, I can’t say those things.
You see, cancer isn’t like other evils. It doesn’t discriminate by age, gender, race, etc. It doesn’t care if you’re ready for it or not.
However, cancer doesn’t know that people who face it, are the toughest people out there.
Some win their battles, thankfully. But some like my grandma, do not.
The fact is, no one should ever have to face that battle in the first place. No one should ever have to be put to that test.
I pray that cancer stops striking down on people. I hope that all people battling cancer are able to say that they defeated the beast. But mostly, I pray that one day in my lifetime I see a cure for an evil that is all too prevalent in this world.