Here is is..the first day of April. For some it is that quirky day that happens once a year where a silly prank is played on you or you play one on someone else. But April 1st and even the entire month of April has forever changed for me for a couple of reasons. It is now the day that I remember as being one of the saddest that I ever had the misfortune to experience. It is the day five years ago, when I lost one of my closest and dearest girlfriends in the world, to complications from Inflammatory Breast Cancer.http://www.mdanderson.org/patient-and-cancer-information/cancer-information/cancer-types/inflammatory-breast-cancer/index.html Marilyn was the amazing and incredible best friend that all girls should be so blessed to have. And like the seemingly obscure and little known illness of Sjogren’s Syndrome, most women have never even heard of Inflammatory Breast Cancer (IBF). Yet, the whole world is familiar with hot pink Breast Cancer Ribbons and the Breast Cancer awareness campaigns and events that have been active for years now. And now April has become Sjogren’s Awareness Month.
I know if Marilyn were still here, we would be talking about how ironic it is that we both managed to snag a relatively unknown, but significantly invasive disease intruder into each of our lives. I would of course, have my occasional Sjogren’s pity parties and verbalize my extreme annoyance and the unfairness of having to deal with a chronic illness. Marilyn, would of course, be the amazing listener that she always was, as well as being the perfect role model for “how to do” catastrophic illness. Marilyn and I became friends while advocating for our children with learning disabilities. Whether she was battling a school district for services for her child or fighting her personal battle with cancer, she was, a true warrior and the kind of warrior I want to be as I battle Sjogren’s.
So as I contemplate the month of April, I am reminded of my friend and her undeniable courage. I will forever think of April as a time to apply my ” Marilyn-like” strength to helping the Sjogren’s Foundation bring awareness to Sjogren’s Syndrome. And when I am tempted to complain or feel sorry for myself, I will recall the familiar words that I so fondly recall from Marilyn…“It is what it is”. Those words have a way of grounding me in almost any situation. Marilyn’s bottom line (in her oh so compassionate way) was.. don’t complain, just deal with it.
Here’s to Marilyn, Sjogren’s Awareness Month and Warrior Strength!