“Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few.”
~~ Winston Churchill after the Battle of Britain
This post is not about Winston Churchill. Nor is it about The Battle of Britain, or even World War II. This post is about brave warriors who have fought a deeply personal battle, some coming out victorious and some falling victim to their enemy.
I went to bed last night thinking of this quote as a writing prompt. It is one of my favorite quotes, and I spent some time thinking about the airmen who fought so valiantly in The Battle of Britain. What were they thinking? Feeling? I tried to put myself in their shoes and feel what it must have really been like in that moment, rather than the relatively sterile version of their experience that we may get from history books or movies.
I woke up this morning inspired to write a post to that effect. Moments later, I found out a sweet friend has been diagnosed with cancer.
The Battle of Britain and cancer are not related. However, every time I tried to write about those brave pilots today, all I could think of was my friend…and all of my close family and friends who have fought this battle before — my mother, my sister-in-law, my cousin, my aunts, so. many. friends.
October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, but this is not a “Breast Cancer Awareness” post.
This is a “Cancer Fighter Awareness” post!
It is a shout out to those who are or have been in the battle, taking fire, perhaps ducking but never running. Some of you have been gloriously victorious, some of you have lasting scars from your injuries, and sadly, some of you lost the fight. Each of you have shown the rest of us how to FIGHT WELL.
So how exactly does this quote meant for fighter pilots relate to a Cancer Fighter?
They each know the risk but have deemed it worthy. It may be reflexive to assume that, of course, you would have that surgery, endure that chemo and that radiation, suffer the horrible side effects, because living is worth all costs. I would venture that this assumption comes a whole lot easier to the person not losing the body parts, not suffering violent illness from the treatment, not losing her hair or her mind (chemo brain is real!), or enduring far worse long-term effects. More often than any of us realize, many justifiably wonder, “Is the cure worth the treatment?”
And yet… These Fighters assess the risk and what they must endure, and then they do what they must. They fight.
A #Fighter knows the risk but deems it worthy. #victory #FightWell #cancer Click To Tweet
Many times they are guinea pigs. Sometimes the treatments work the first time, sometimes they don’t. No Cancer Fighter ever wants to hear the words “experimental treatment.” However, at some point in the history of this particular human conflict, even the most standard forms of treatment were “experimental.” There was a Fighter who was willing to be a guinea pig, and as a result, many lives that were previously condemned by a cancer diagnosis can now be saved with a straightforward treatment.
They are terrified. But they do it anyway. Fear is no respecter of persons. We all feel it. It is how we respond to it that makes us unique. Those fighter pilots no doubt climbed into their planes with bravado, but it doesn’t take a huge stretch of the imagination for us to feel an inkling of the fear they had to have been experiencing, even as they pushed it aside to complete their mission. Some may have drawn a relatively easy mission for the day; others knew they would be fighting to the death.Fear is no respecter of persons; it's our response to it that matters. #FightWell Click To Tweet
Our brave Cancer Fighters are doing the same. Some know their fight will not be as difficult as the ones others will endure. Yet they each have the same mission: win the battle. And none of those battles will be easy, though perhaps a few will be less fierce than others. But all of these Fighters must harness their fear and refocus it on the fight, otherwise they risk the fear becoming at best a distraction, and at worst, an immobilizer.
They do it for themselves, but also for those they love. Yes, some folks are just adrenaline junkies and volunteer for the thrill of the fight. Others volunteer because of a need to protect both themselves and others. Cancer Fighters don’t volunteer; they are drafted. There is not an option to decline. Survival means fierce engagement, and the Fighter’s survival doesn’t just matter to her, it matters even more to those who love her. No doubt many Fighters would have chosen to surrender often during the course of the battle, but they carry on for those who love them.#Cancer #Fighters don't volunteer. They are drafted. #FightWell Click To Tweet
In fighting their battle well, they show us how to do the same. There is not one of us alive who does not have some type of battle in our life. The ferocity of the fight varies for each person, but the principles of fighting well are the same. We would do well to not just be there to support our Fighters when they need us, but to study them, to emulate their strength and determination — to learn to fight well.
Cancer is an enemy that we all fear, and I pray you and I never receive that diagnosis. At the same time, I am so sorry that so many people I love have been forced to fight this battle. To those of you who are or who have been in the firefight, I speak for the rest of us when I say that you have shown us how to fight well.
You have shown us why, in this particular “field of human conflict, so much is owed by so many to so few.”
I would like to thank Janine and Mackenzie from “Friday Reflections” for the weekly writing prompts. As I said, my mind was going down a different path when considering this quote, but circumstances changed that.
And to my sweet friend entering her firefight — you are so loved by so many, and you are not in this battle alone.
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