I am volunteering for an amazing organization, Chemo Buddies 4Life, that will become global in how we all deal and see cancer. Within this opportunity to give back, I have been able to tell my story of how I lost my best friend to cancer when she was 19 years old. I miss Sarah everyday, her spirit and soul so strong and true. Remembering the journey that started when I was 4 years old in finding her friendship has brought back so much energy of love, compassion, empathy, grace, excitement, passion, and growth.

Sarah and I were two totally different people. She was adventurous and I was shy, she wanted nothing more than to be up in the sky and I was happy on the ground. Near the end of her journey she did everything she loved from bungee jumping, sky diving, flying in a helicopter, riding in hot air balloon, parasailing, and piloting a small airplane.

When Sarah was diagnosed it was a whirlwind, at first we thought we would lose her in a matter of weeks but she fought for two years. Being that she was my best friend I could not stop thinking about how badly I wanted to take this disease away from her. I would of gladly taken her place so that she didn’t have to suffer. It was always an unwritten rule that I would be the one to pass away first. At the age of 17 I was diagnosed with a heart condition that I was born with but didn’t know about. I also had type II diabetes and the medications that I was on changed my body overnight. So, my life seem to come to halt as the heart condition limited me or more like I let the heart condition limit me out of fear.

I did everything I could to let her know I was there for her every step of the way. I even took a road trip to Omaha Nebraska to see her after her bone marrow transplant. When we first arrive I was told she was to ill and I may not see her at all. That didn’t matter to me because I just wanted her to know I was there even if I did not see her. I was blessed to see her briefly the day before we left. It was a magical moment that I will never forget!

From all these memories that have come flooding back I realized that I had not painted since before she passed away. So, last night I picked up a paint brush for the first time in many years. After the brush was finally put down then came the tears! Tears of gratefulness for my life and for her memories that still keep the flame burning inside of me.

Can you find the cancer ribbon representing all cancers inside of the painting? Fight to find you! Look for opportunities to help others to ignite the fire in you to go out and make a difference. Keep making memories my friends!

By RaeAnn Gardner

RaeAnn Gardner
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