This week has been filled with so many emotions! I am sharing this personal look inside the happiest day of Kass’s cancer journey. All of these videos and photographs were taken on September 13, 2011, exactly 2 years ago today, marking Kass’s last day of radiation treatment. Although it is still hard for us to watch because we cannot see through our tears, I am sharing it for a few reasons.
First, to remember Kass’s courage, hope and determination.
We were all so happy that day. We thought we had turned a corner. We knew the fight had only just begun, but things were looking up. The first phase was over, and Kass did great! She looks happy, beautiful, and although she lost a lot of weight, she was fierce that day. She wanted to wear her LIVESTRONG shirt because it provided such inspiration to her. And, wear it she did. Proudly. When her treatment was over, she wanted to go to the Liberty Bell and then to the Rocky steps. She ran those steps and she cried. And, I cried. At the bottom of the steps before she ran, she mentioned our friend Casey. Casey had promised to run those steps with her when she was healed. Sadly, we never made it back there and to this day, I am not sure if I could ever go back there again.
Secondly, I share this with you to personalize the cancer journey.
For one full year, standing proudly next to Kass as she fought, our family lived every emotion of the human experience almost every single day. From the tears, sadness, frustration, and anger, to the daily smiles, love, happiness, stillness, laughter, joy, courage, faith, and hope (we can never forget the hope); cancer brings them all to the surface and forces you to stand in the truth and live. Right then…..Right there….Always looking forward…..Wrapping yourself in the love of family and friends, your faith in God and the doctors and nurses who will care for you, and in the HOPE that lives inside of you, where the reserves have been building over a lifetime of viewing the world through optimistic and loving eyes. What other choice does one truly have? Kass used to say, “Cancer has made my lens so crystal clear. I see things with an unbelievable clarity that I never had before.”
For anyone reading this who has been through cancer, either themselves or as a caregiver, you 100% absolutely understand this sentiment. For those who have not, please count your blessings! I beg you to count your blessings right now. Today. Cancer is a beast and a powerful one at that. Even with my parents’ reminders over the years for us to stand straight out of bed each morning and then fall to our knees to thank God for our lives, our health, and our family, I never really understood what those words meant until it was too late. Although I hope I never did, life is so easy to take for granted.
I share this story and this video with you because our family is no different from millions of other families out there right now, today, who are living this same journey. I share Kass’s example to let you know that even when the worst possible outcome comes to pass, there is still hope! Hope that someday, we will find a cure for this terrible disease. Hope that no other babies will have to lose their Mommies at 4 years old. Hope that we will never forget the lessons we learned as we witnessed the fight. Hope that our lives here on Earth have meaning and that our legacy will carry forward and inspire & help others. Hope that those of us who are left behind will live better lives, lives with more clarity, and lives steeped in a pursuit of giving, loving, and helping others.
That is what Kass would have wanted. To inspire or support or somehow help just one person who is standing where she stood and facing what she faced. And now, Kass is with God in Heaven living her eternal life, a life where there is no more pain, only peace and love. And so must we carry on, too. We live and we laugh and we love, but we never forget. Our work with our foundation is how we will carry Kass’s legacy forward. And just like the finest symphony, the Team Kass Foundation is the instrument, and Kass, our graceful and beautiful conductor!