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Opinion: Cancer shouldn’t define or overshadow loved ones

Shannon (center) with her family on March 26 Credit: Courtesy of Shannon Corl Gillmor

Shannon (center) with her family on March 26
Credit: Courtesy of Shannon Corl Gillmor

My cousin, Shannon, was diagnosed with a rare cancer a few years ago. She beat it twice, and it has come back for a third round.

The official name is dermatofibrosarcoma protuberans, which is a soft-tissue sarcoma that has no known cause.

That’s all of the attention that needs to be given to it. I want to focus on her.

Shannon is 39 years young, a mother to an energetic, beautiful, intelligent 10-year-old girl, Bri, and a wife to an amazing, supportive, loving husband, Johnny. To only say that she is an amazing wife and mother would not do her justice.

Ever since I can remember, she’s had this light in her eyes — just by looking at her you can tell that her soul is special. She is genuine, strong — so strong — compassionate, caring, funny and just an overall amazing human being. I am not biased whatsoever — ask anyone who knows her.

Not only that, but she is beautiful. The kind of beautiful that makes you do a double take. Her smile lights up any room she enters, and her blue eyes are always sparkling.

I just got to see her this past weekend for the first time since Christmas, because she moved to Texas, and it got me thinking.

Cancer is a bitch. I’m pretty sure we can all come to a general consensus on that. I don’t even like to give it the time of day. I don’t want to think of cancer when I see her, and most of the time I don’t.

We always went over to her family’s house on Christmas Day when they lived in Ohio, and let me tell you, Shannon is the ultimate host. I mean, she really knows what she’s doing. She could earn a living based solely on hosting holiday events.

She has the most creative, adorable and colorful Christmas decorations I have ever seen in my life, and of course she took them with her to Texas, which put a huge smile on my face. Along with choosing the best home decor, she is an awesome chef.

So when I saw her two weeks ago, I maybe saw her in a different light than some people. I saw my beautiful cousin, a woman so dedicated to decorating and making sure everyone is happy, healthy and has a full stomach, while simultaneously refilling each wine glass, a woman that has always put family first, and a person whom I truly admire.

Cancer will never win, in my eyes. I really encourage my family and everyone who is going through something similar to believe this. Don’t let it win by overshadowing the person you love and the lifetime of memories you have created.

This has never and will never define who she is, besides showing how strong she is. Shannon is truly an inspiration, and words cannot describe the love and admiration I and so many others have for her. At least I’ve tried to describe it.

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