I wonder how many of you have lost someone to cancer.

I used to hear the word and think abstractly of the tragedy of it, but real feelings and emotions never surfaced from the deep.

That changed with the loss of my Aunt Kathy, who was one of my best friends.

Now, when I hear the word, my heart is pained in a way it never was before. It aches for the families who have a vacancy at the dinner table; a birthday to honor but no more candles to light; or a Christmas stocking, hanging empty from the mantle.

My heart breaks for the friend who can never again pick up the phone and hear the voice of that one person who can lift her spirits, or just allow her to vent until they laugh or cry or both. Emails float unanswered into cyberspace, and Facebook turns into a memorial wall. Deep conversations become soliloquies and long walks solo events.

Behind every pink (or blue or teal or white…) ribbon is a wounded heart. Every 5k or race for awareness is filled not with participants, but with battle-scarred people, doing what they can to bring about a cure.

The worst adjectives in the English language cannot begin to describe cancer. And words cannot do justice to my hatred for it, nor can they scratch the surface of my sorrow over it.

Even in this world, where absolutes are frowned upon, I think I can safely say that cancer is an evil thing.

And until war is waged upon that most virulent, most capricious killer, there will continue to be too many empty places at our tables and in our hearts.

**For Francie…

and Kathy…

and Richard Wellman…

and…

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