By Piper Bayard

My teenage baby had her first life setback this week in the form of a blown out knee. Physically, her path will not be a mystery. Surgery, rehab, and a new talent for predicting the weather. Emotionally, she will learn that we can’t control everything, and whining doesn’t change anything. Good life lessons to learn when one has a lifetime to practice them.

Cancer taught me those lessons in my youth, but because I lived, it was one of the greatest gifts of my life. I know what my time is worth.


Angelina Jolie brought cancer to the forefront this past week by having a double mastectomy based on genetic testing. Many people are judging her harshly for parting with healthy parts, while others are reading her story and finding the strength to let go of some parts in their own bids for life. After all, Angelina hardly needs breasts to be a whole woman.

As this debate was going down in social media, my own friend, Susie Lindau, told me she was just diagnosed with breast cancer. I advised her as I would Angelina if that icon suddenly turned into someone who gave a damn what I thought. “This is YOUR journey. You get to do it YOUR way.” One of the lessons I was blessed with on my own path.

But sometimes, the lessons of a lifetime don’t come with a lifetime to live them. Sometimes, the lessons only lead to good-byes.

Zach Sobiech, age 18, died of cancer on Monday. I can’t help but think the question . . . Why him and not me? Cancer taught me that some questions have no answers, but they can still lead to conclusions. My conclusion? We have this moment. What we do with it is ours alone to answer for.

Zach Sobiech lived his lessons and used his moment to say good-bye to the people he loved in the form of a song.

Today, I raise a toast to those who live their lessons in this moment. May we all fly a little higher.