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Twenty-Five Years of Firsts

On September 26, 1989, I was less than a month into my awesomely laid out senior year of high school. I was class president, I'd already been accepted to the college of my choice - the University of Missouri to study broadcast journalism - and my class schedule was the envy of my friends. I had two full hours of music, an hour of "honors" study hall (I could actually leave school to "study"), and I proctored a class, meaning that I had just three hours a day of actual real work.

But on September 26, 1989, at about 3:15pm, every bit of that fun, relaxed, and memorable final year of my youth was wiped clean. That's when I was told that I had cancer.

Most of you know the story that follows. Or if you don't, you can read all about it on the rest of this website. Or in my book, Heart of Iron. So I'm not going to rehash those details now. It's not why I am writing this. Because today isn't about what I went through to get here, twenty-five years later. It's about being here, in this place, in this life, and recognizing that absolute blessing of that.

And it's not just my blessing. It's the acknowledgement of the reality that we are making great progress on the road to a cure. We're not there yet. We still have lots of work to do. But people, just like me, are now living complete and full lives after they were diagnosed.

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Life is Always Worth It

I'm at a loss today on how I am suppose to feel. Or think. Or react. Or react to other's reaction regarding the suicide of Robin Williams.

It is tragic and sad when the world loses anyone by their own hand, famous or not, genius or regular, celebrated comedian and actor or an unknown with little to no accomplishments. But with that being said, I do understand that when it's someone that has touched our lives for years, that is responsible for so many personal laughs and smiles, people feel more connected to the loss. We feel that we know him. We feel that the loss for his family is one shared by us.

I also don't want to diminish the very real pain of depression. I understand its depths and its darkness.

I was 19, going through chemotherapy, missing out on college, hearing about all of my friend's adventures as they prepared for their futures, while I prepared for that week's chemo.

I was 23, in isolation during my bone marrow transplant, my college years had now been interrupted a second time - and quite possibly I would never be able to return because my life had been reduced to days and weeks - and in isolation you have nothing but hours to let your mind wander, thinking about what might have been, what should have been, but now will never be.

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