Today I woke to the news that Rebecca Wilson had passed away. It was breast cancer and she was 54 years old. I didn’t know Rebecca personally, however felt incredibly saddened and quite overwhelmed with grief. I remember her as the feisty, yet humorous sports journalist and a regular panellist on The Fat – a light hearted sports show hosted by Tony Squires and more recently on radio. I liked her style. She had moxy. She kept the news about her breast cancer private from many friends and family to limit their suffering.
The glaringly obvious comparison that I have breast cancer, coupled with the fact that I will be 54 next month, has sent me spinning into a whirlwind of thoughts, questions, feelings and emotions. My usually logical, rational, common-sense mind has been knocked off kilter. I do realise that we are all individual and Rebecca’s cancer was also individual... so why do I feel compelled to write what I am feeling when her story is not mine? I recall this response has happened before…and I wonder if that is the same for others in this situation.
Do we all put ourselves in someone else’s story to try and make sense of our own?
I think about the fact that she kept the diagnosis private. I understand the need to protect those around you from suffering. There is a resilient and defiant strength in doing so. I question my openness to my own diagnosis and wonder if I should have kept it quiet. I think, however, that whether you share your diagnosis or not, having cancer creates a very lonely place. Not one other person can truly understand what you feel. I can share my thoughts in the hope that it may give insight or relate to those also going through it…but the reality is, only you know the depth of your own emotions.
Facing your mortality, either from old age, or an illness or injury is a solitary one.
Just as I am in the middle of writing this, I received a phone call from a very dear friend. She rang just to say hi, but knew that my reaction to Rebecca’s passing may have affected me. If she wasn’t aware of my situation, she would not have known to reach out and call…So yes, having cancer is lonely, but knowing that others are empathetic and are standing by your side on these kind of days is such a blessing and gives me strength.
The reality of cancer and its potential outcome was very present with me today. But I hold on very tight to the thought that I am my own story. It is a day to grieve for Rebecca's story and during the course of today I have discovered it is also a day for me to feel grateful. The comparison is not necessary, because the major difference that is so abundantly clear... is that I am still here.
Rest in peace Rebecca Wilson.