These are my friends Nate and Alexia, and I'm sad to say that they know December pain even better than I do, because they spent two Christmases in a row fighting cancer.
Nate was diagnosed with testicular cancer in December of 2013 when Christmas #1 was ruined. He went through treatments for it the first half of 2014, only for it to recur in December of 2014, almost to the day of his original cancer diagnosis, ruining Christmas #2! Imagine having your lives turned upside down by cancer not just once, but twice. And imagine having the holiday season tarnished in such a way by having to fight for your lives over Christmas two years in a row. It's supposed to be a happy and joyful time of the year, but for all of us, this time of year has become dreadful.
I'll let Nate and Alexia share their story together in their own way and in their own time, but I've been by both of their sides throughout all of this, and I just can't put into words right now how proud I am of them for all that they've been through, and for all that they've had to overcome together in these past two years. To see these two finally get to celebrate Christmas without having to fight for their lives again is a huge victory, and helps me to heal from some of my own pain. Just getting to see them finally host a holiday party in their own home brought tears to my eyes, knowing that they had to cancel last year's after Nate's cancer had recurred.
I'm not just proud of Nate and Alexia, but for myself too, and that I was able to be such a huge and important source of support for them all throughout this journey. I wasn't sure at the time that we connected, before Nate had his first appointment with an oncologist, that I was strong enough to be able to support them in such a way. I had just been through a really rough post-cancer year myself, and was terrified of failing them. To be a cancer mentor for someone is a huge responsibility, but I took a leap of faith that I was strong enough, and stayed fully engaged throughout. My own cancer mentor made a world of difference for me, and it's been good for the soul to have been able to pay this gift forward to someone else in need.
You don't get too many moments like this one in life. I don't think too many people in the room really understood just how difficult all of this has been, nor all of the challenges one faces after cancer as a young adult. You can't. It's impossible, unless you've been there too, in which case you just know. This was a huge moment in life for these dear friends of mine, and what an honor it was to have been there for them, and by their sides throughout.
All of us still need to heal in various ways. There are things that we still struggle with especially when it comes to the month of December, and all of the pain that it's brought into our lives. You need to create new positive memories to help write over and heal from the pain of the past, and I think this was an excellent down payment on that. Their victory is my victory too, and we're all stronger together.
Merry Christmas, Nate & Alexia! 😊
Here's to a proper holiday season, and a healthy, happy, and prosperous 2016.
I love you guys! God Bless you both!