I'm THAT Aunt.

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I'm THAT Aunt.


I’m THAT Aunt.


I believe I mentioned before that I really didn’t have a lot of exposure to cancer and how it affected people’s lives as I was growing up. It really didn’t crash into my world until my late teens when both of my grandparents on my dad’s side of the family were diagnosed and passed away from cancer. Based on what I know about cancer now, odds dictate I probably was surrounded by quite a few friends, family, and acquaintances who were dealing with cancer in some form or another. I was probably just too young and naive to totally process it. My parents probably shielded me from a lot of it. The few people I recall having cancer were old. In my mind cancer was an old person disease, or at least that is how it seemed to me at the time.


In junior high we moved to Yorba Linda, CA and I had to change schools. It was a big adjustment. Catholic school to public school, and the number of students exponentially increased. Suddenly my exposure to life shifted and my world was no longer so small. I had friends and friends of friends that were losing aunts and uncles to cancer. I really didn’t know this could happen. I am sure they passed away from all different sorts of cancer, but for some reason those aunts who passed away from breast cancer stick in my mind the most. Especially those aunts who were under 50.


We all know teenagers aren’t the most sensitive when it comes to feelings other than their own, but I remember thinking losing an aunt was sad, but not as sad as losing your mom. Your mom is typically an every day fixture in your life, which of course can be so very annoying as a teenager. Still, you can’t deny that grieving process once such a huge chunk of your life disappears. Aunts aren’t typically such a daily and integral factor so the grieving process is different. Of course I am saying this as generalization as there are many exceptions to the rule. After their aunts passed away and they went through dealing with the initial and immediate loss it seemed life was quicker to return to a somewhat normal state. Their sadness would pop up at the holidays or when that aunt’s birthday rolled around.


The other day it hit me. I am THAT aunt. I don’t like it. I am supposed to be that crazy old aunt that my nieces and nephews are forced to visit in “the home” on holidays and my birthday. I’ll have a plate of stale, gross cookies and smell strongly of old lady perfume or cat pee. Maybe both. I should be sending them a dollar on their birthday and some horribly out of style outfit on Christmas. I should not be the aunt that died too young.


Ok, so not likely I would be that crazy old aunt. Not my style. Well maybe I would still have the cookies. but I would make sure they were a cool and stylish cookie. Either way, I don’t like the fact that cancer is trying to make that decision for me.


It’s bad enough that I am so far away from my nieces and nephews. I am in Minnesota and they are in California. I don’t get to see them nearly enough for my liking.


My nephew Xsander is unfortunately old enough to know exactly what is going on and to see first hand the havoc cancer has caused. We are very close and it’s not fair he has to experience this too. My niece Brendi is old enough to know the general idea of what’s happening, but she’s still at that age where you aren’t as exposed to the mass quantities of “bad” the universe can throw your way at any given moment. I know she loves me, but I am sure it is a little uncomfortable to be around me because you just don’t have a lot of experience dealing with sick people.


My youngest niece Lyndis Ruby is too young to know, and she shouldn’t know the details of what’s happening. She probably knows her Aunt Lori is sick and she lost her hair. She has never once treated me any differently and she doesn’t act differently around me. Unfortunately she saw her grandmother on her mom’s side go through breast cancer recently as well. Lydis is an old soul and wise beyond her years. I think she’s very sensitive to the feelings of those around her without even realizing it. She somehow just knows things and that has given us an unspoken bond.


Then there is little Zandon. I have yet to meet my nephew in person, but I can already tell you I love this little guy to pieces. I can’t wait to be able to hold him and hug and squeeze on him. I hope I make it to see many many more years, but unfortunately it’s a real possibility that I won’t get the chance to know Zandon as well as I want to.


My nieces and nephews on Dennis’ side of the family are older and grown up. Thankfully I have had the opportunity to spend time with them over the years and get to know them. They are all old enough to fully comprehend the situation and understand what cancer does to a family.


I am not sad about the potential loss of time I have to to spend with my family as much as I am angry. They really don’t have a lot of say as far as how well they will get to know me. When you are younger you don’t comprehend the passage of time and opportunities lost like you do as you get older. It is truly not fair.


So, just in case I don’t get the opportunity to say these things to you Xsander, Brendi, Lyndis Ruby & Zandon, here are some things your Aunt Lori wants you to know:


1. I fight this cancer in the hopes that none of you will ever have to. If they haven’t totally gotten rid of cancer, I hope that my life will count towards a cure.

2. Be a good person. By this I mean be the type of person that you want to hang out with. (The Golden Rule-it’s my favorite).

3. Admit when you are wrong and say you’re sorry. People will respect you for it.

4. Make sure that those you love know how much you love them. Don’t be afraid to say “I love you”. Don’t be afraid to give hugs like they’re going out of style.

5. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Friends and family will be there to help you and hold you up when you aren’t feeling strong.

6. No matter where I am, I will always have time to listen to you. Just talk to me outloud. Even if I have moved on, I will still be listening and helping you in any way I can. I’ll do everything in my power to give you signs that I am listening.

7. Your parents love you and just want the best for you. You make them proud just by being their children. They mean well, even when it doesn’t necessarily feel that way.

8. Follow your heart and don’t be afraid of failure. It makes you a stronger person.

9. Surround yourself with people that want to make you be a better person. A person who loves you for you and truly cares for you will pick you up in life, not push you down.


And MOST IMPORTANT:

10. Never forget how much I love each of you. Always carry a piece of me in your heart. Promise me you will NEVER say that I lost my battle to cancer. As long as you carry me in your heart, cancer cannot win. I can’t lose. I did the only thing I could and took cancer out with me, kamikaze style.


I WIN.



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