My Uncle George stopped me at the funeral home, rolled up his sleeve and showed me that he had his Fight to End Cancer bracelet on that I sent to him last year post fight. He told me he hasn't taken it off since and to 'keep fighting'.
He wasn't talking about just boxing, he was talking about cancer. My family and I travelled to Montreal this past weekend to celebrate my Auntie Heather's life with her kids, grandkids, six siblings (my mum's side), close friends and family. It was a beautiful celebration.
My Auntie Heather had cancer for 11 years and as her son put it, "it didn't define her." She was so much more than that and though she did fight with cancer every single day - it didn't take away from her role as a mother, sister, grandmother, aunt and friend. She was Heather. And that was enough.
The last time I saw my Auntie Heather was when we went to visit in June after my fight. I had a plaque for her and I wanted her to know that I had fought for her. I will never forget the memory of sitting beside her at Dunn's waiting for our smoked meat sandwiches, seeing her reaction to photos of my bloody nose from the event and then seeing her read the plaque through tears welling up in her eyes. My eyes weren't dry either.
My Auntie Heather fought cancer, yes. But though she is no longer with us, she definitely did not lose that fight. We say defeat is not an option because it's the truth. My Auntie Heather and anyone that has had to fight, is fighting or will fight are the reason that we are still fighting. If anything, it makes us all fight that much harder.
Auntie Heather, your honesty, sarcastic humour and love for your family will be missed. I love you and I promise I won't stop fighting as long as you are in my corner.
Rest peacefully, Auntie Heather <3