This past weekend was one of the toughest that I’ve ever had. I buried my good friend Maia, who succumbed to breast cancer, and who I loved very much. As I sat there listening to the eulogies at her funeral, I felt sadness — and fear.
I cried that day not just for her, but all of those facing a Stage 4 diagnosis. How many more funerals must we endure before there is a cure? I know I am going to lose more friends. That is a fact. I do not think my heart can take any more loss, but I must prepare for it. I have to.
Even though her passing broke my heart, it also made me realize that we cannot take life for granted. Tell the important people in your life that you love them. Spend more time with family, and live every day to the fullest — no matter what. Maia taught me to love unconditionally, love your friends, not to take crap from anyone, achieve greatness, and do what you love to do.
Maia provided support to women and men around the world. She impacted all of us; she pushed us to take chances and encouraged us to enjoy life. She convinced us to do more for breast cancer awareness, to keep pushing for a cure.
To honor her, I will continue my own awareness efforts to help men and women. With me, it isn’t just pink — it’s pink and blue. Women get breast cancer, and so do men. Period.
Maia created the Pink Sisters Soldiers, and her friends will keep it going to help the 3,000-plus women out there. They still need support. We will keep it strong. We will continue to provide peer support, education, awareness, and many more things. That is Maia’s legacy. It is her wish that we all keep fighting and keep moving forward.
Sometimes at night, when the lights are off and there is pure quietness, I can still hear her say, ”Thank you, and good night, Boo.”
We are all in this together. (The Pink Sisters Soldiers will march on. Stay tuned for more details.)
I am Steve Del Gardo. Grateful. Motivated. Warrior of Life. Maia’s Boo. www.protectthepecs.org
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