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Cancer Does Not Define Us

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I read this obituary notice today and it struck a note of defiance and wisdom that I wanted to share:

YAKIMA:

When you write my obituary, do not say I fought a courageous battle with cancer.

“That was the repeated demand made by Dave Clark, who was diagnosed in the 1980’s with Chronic Lymphatic Leukemia (CLL). He wasn’t joking. For once. He nevertheless fought the CLL successfully for more than 25 years.

David Bruce Clark would have completed his 68th year on Sunday, October 13, but passed away the day before on Saturday, October 12, 2013 in a Yakima hospital.”

We are all much more than our cancers. When we are remembered, and more importantly, as we walk through our lives, we want to be recognized as life partners and lovers, as parents and children, as family, as friends, as co-workers, as neighbors, as congregants, as citizens, as adventurers and travelers, as helpers, as confidantes, as advisors, as advocates, as teachers, as writers and readers, as speakers and listeners, as sharers, as jokesters and musicians and artists, as the friendly stranger, as the people we are, and not the mutant clone that wants to take us down.

As did Mr. Clark’s family writing his obituary, it is OK to mention our cancer battles, especially if others can learn from our struggles, but I would agree with the late Mr. Clark and so many other patient advocates that came before us fighting their varied chronic morbid diseases, please leave out the words courageous and inspirational. It is what we must do. It is not as if we have a choice of diagnosis.

Cancer is a real and daily part of our lives.

But cancer does nor define or limit us. Never will.

Brian Koffman 10/19/13