There’s a song on my iPod workout playlist that always inspires me to keep on exercising even when I’ve already convinced myself that I don’t have what it takes to keep on going. It’s my fight song, so to speak, and it also holds a special meaning for me.
When my sister was diagnosed with cancer, she did everything she could to fight it. In addition to her regular “Western” doctors and oncologists, she also saw numerous herbalists and special healers. If she heard about it, read about it, or even just thought about it, she went out and she tried it. When her doctors all told her that she had only a few months left to live, she set out to prove them wrong.
This song was very popular during the months before she died. She would listen to it over and over, and she would laugh about how cool the song was even though it was about drunken people getting back up to keep on drinking.
But the song also brought out a serious side of her, and she would sing along and pump her fists in the air with passion. Once, after we had listened to the song together, she told me that she would never let the cancer get to her and that even though it may knock her down, she would always get back up and keep on fighting.
During her last days before she died, she would slip in and out of a morphine-induced coma. At one point, we had called the priest to her hospital bedside to give her Last Rites. While the priest was administering her Last Rites, she jarred herself from her semi-unconscious state, and she interrupted him. She said that she didn’t want her Last Rites as she wasn’t yet ready to die. The priest had told her that he wanted to prepare her for her meeting with God, but she, two breaths away from death, defiantly answered that he didn’t know exactly when she was going to die, and that for all anyone knew, she could live another forty or fifty years.
After ten months of intensive chemotherapy and multiple and painful hospital stays, her body finally succumbed to cancer on March 31, 2000.
In the end, she had stayed true to her word. She never gave up believing in life, and even as her body gave in to the cancer, her mind, her spirit, and her will to live remained intact to the very end.
This song is a reminder to me of her fighting spirit and of how no matter how many times you get knocked down, you can always, always get back up.
I miss you, Alanna.