Lately I have experienced the loss of some great friends. All from colorectal cancer and way too young. These were all Stage IV patients, and they were all simply amazing in their own ways. One was a wife, stepmother, dog lover, and jet-setting world traveler. One was an educator, cherished daughter, equal rights champion, and generous friend. The last was a mother to two daughters, beloved sister (blood and sorority), Cougs fan, and Colon Club survivor. They all had very different backgrounds and family lives, but they all had one thing in common. They made plans.
My friend T had the means to take trips all over the world. She experienced the beauty this world had to offer while seeking treatment at some of the most renowned hospitals in the United States. I watched her travel to Rome with her partner in crime, L, and venture to see the Northern Lights with her husband through pictures online. I sat on the beach with her in Miami and soaked up the sea air with her the last time I saw her in person. She wanted to see those places and made plans.
My friend M was a mother of girls like me. She took every opportunity to have fun with them and shared her love for her college alma mater. They went to football games, and the joy and pride she had for them beamed from her beautiful smile. She treasured her family and spent her free time with her sorority sisters who helped support her through her diagnosis. She had a passion for running and raised awareness for CRC while doing it. She wanted to show her daughters how to love themselves and be strong, so she made plans.
My friend P was the closest friend I have ever lost from CRC. We had an almost instantaneous bond that is hard to describe. She knew she was going to be leaving this world, so she made a bucket list. She came close to checking every, single thing off that list including being arrested! When she couldn’t go to her last planned trip to Cuba, her rooms, S, brought Cuba to her. She fought for all of humanity while showing us how to live. P also did something wonderful for her family to make things easier when she left us. She planned out her entire remembrance as a final gift of love. She recorded her own eulogy and told us to have the hard conversations. She made plans. The fun ones and the difficult ones.
My husband and I have been on the We Don’t Wait tour for four years now. I have to say, even though cancer sucks, I have had some of the best adventures with my family and friends since 2015. Deciding not to wait to do things has been one of the best choices we have ever made. I visit friends and take little trips. I watch my favorite bands, and I let the music move me. I am also going to take P’s advice for the sake of my family.
Do all the things, my friends. It doesn’t have to cost a thing. A simple walk at sunset can be one of those moments that stays with you forever. Snuggle a little longer with your babies, fur or otherwise. Things can be rough, you may have to cancel, but make the plans anyway.
Diana Sloan is originally from Chesapeake, Virginia, and is a graduate of James Madison University. She currently lives in Lakeway, Texas, with her husband of twenty years and their three daughters. Diana was an English teacher until 2012 when she was diagnosed with stage IV colorectal cancer. She is currently in treatment and spends her free time making memories with her family. She is also active in the colorectal cancer community and is the blog manager for The Colon Club, an all-volunteer advocacy group