May 4, 2005

Proto-Inkslinger #9: Touched by an angel

Telegram Community Editorial Board
Written from St. John's, NL
Appeared in the St. John's Telegram on May 4, 2005.

Touched by an angel
Classmate will never be forgotten

Cancer Awareness Week took place very recently. However, if there was ever a time that I was aware of cancer, it was then. A very good friend and fellow journalism graduate lost her life to that horrible disease. I had just finished working my first full week at the library when I received the news. I was stunned.

When you hear “cancer”, what images does it form in your mind? In my mind’s eye, I see a monster invading healthy cells – a monster that destroys and continues to destroy. It’s not totally invulnerable – it has been beaten by people before. My friend was confident that she had it beaten. Suddenly, the beast rose up, reared its ugly head again, and attacked when her guard was down.

Sometimes you can run, but you can’t escape. When he undertook his historical Marathon of Hope
from St. John’s in 1980, Terry Fox made us all aware of cancer. But no matter how far and how hard he ran, outside Thunder Bay, Ontario, the monster got him too.

According to the Canadian Cancer Society, this year in Canada there will be approximately 149,000 new cases of cancer diagnosed and 69,500 cancer-related deaths will occur. 2,865 Canadians will be diagnosed with cancer every week and 1,337 Canadians will die of cancer every week. These appalling figures have reduced my friend to a statistic, since they were released April 12, 2005.

She was so much more than a mere statistic. She was an amazing human being with a heart of gold. She'd be there for you, even if her plate was already full. During our last year of college, she was the head of advertising for the Fall 2003 Troubador. I was the Managing Editor, but she was the true backbone for that edition (and her extra effort helped subsequent editions). I still remember the incredible amount of work she put into getting those ads when we were putting that paper together - this was on top of normal schoolwork and working at her part-time job. Without the ads, we wouldn’t be able to afford to print the paper. She was a little ball of energy and a light in all of our lives. She was very easy to talk to, and she was very understanding. A serious complaint coming from her was rare, perhaps non-existent. It's so unfortunate that her life was snuffed out at such a young age.
By the time we went our separate ways a year ago (coincidentally, this is being written on the same day we all split up one year ago), my small journalism class had a unifying friendship that transcended that of any friendship that I had with my high school class.

Since the loss of our friend and colleague, my former class’s camaraderie has become even stronger . . . and I never want to see that bond broken. The recent events have taught me to have a greater appreciation for life and everyone I know. Anything could happen. You never know how much time you actually have left with those you care about, or how much time you yourself have left.

So here’s my advice to you, dear readers: live in the present, and make the most of it. The future hasn't happened yet, and the past is gone.

Kayla will always be remembered with the greatest of love. She touched many lives. She always was, and continues to be, an angel.