F#@k Cancer: A Tribute to Those That Fought the Good Fight

After mami was first diagnosed, I was in a Hallmark store and saw the coolest mug ever.  It simply read F#@k Cancer! I bought it and mami kept it on her nightstand with pencils and trinkets.  My siblings and I always smiled when we saw it there. Last night, as I tweeted about how I was feeling after hearing that Steve Jobs had passed, I thought of that phrase.  What can I say?  I find myself in this house where my mami lived, looking at her namesake running and playing in this space. I read about Steve Jobs. I contemplate his passing and think about how difficult these last few years must have been for him. And yet...

I feel as if he probably lived with that phrase every day he woke up.  F#@k Cancer!  He had to in order to have survived as long as he did.  Pancreatic cancer is one of the most swift and vicious cancers out there. Almost always a death sentence.  Since his diagnosis, Steve did so much.  He never stopped living even though he certain knew he was dying.  We can learn so much from that.  Learn so much from him.

People will talk about his genius in business and technology, I don't think anyone can argue with that.  But, I am more interested in his outlook on life.  His every day form of thinking.  I loved this quote from his now famous 2005 Stanford commencement speech:

No one wants to die. Even people who want to go to heaven don’t want to die to get there. And yet death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it. And that is as it should be, because Death is very likely the single best invention of Life. It is Life’s change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new. Right now the new is you, but someday not too long from now, you will gradually become the old and be cleared away. Sorry to be so dramatic, but it is quite true.

Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.

The line that touches me most? Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life.  I've been thinking a lot about my life, my decisions and my future lately. I've come to realize in these last few weeks of being at home after an unceremonious parting with my company that, I must pursue my passion.  Now.  For exactly the same reason that Steve mentions.  My time is limited.  What better time to risk it all in an attempt to fulfill my dreams of being a writer than now?

I have known people affected by cancer.  I have known great warriors who fought their best battles against this disease.  They all had an interminable amount of courage, a zest for living and an attitude of f#@k cancer!  When mami and I talked about the possibility of there being no more treatment options for her, she dismissed me and said: pppfff, those tumors are going to dry up with or without medications.  F#@k cancer is what she was saying.  And I loved her for it.

My mami and Steve Jobs (along with others - and you know who they are) had a lot in common.  What does a world renowned genius CEO have in common with a mother who didn't finish high school and did manual labor most of her life? Courage.  A fearlessness that transcended time and space, probably because of the strength in their faith.  A clear understanding of how precious life is.  An uncompromising conviction of what (and who) is truly important in this world.  And a F#@k cancer attitude.

I have learned many lessons watching my mother battle cancer.  And I can now, sadly, say the same thing about Steve.  But make no mistake about it, they did NOT lose their war against the disease.  On the contrary, being pain free and finally transcending to that space in which we all hope to be some day is the biggest victory of all.