Becky Tilly Krapff (in hat second from right) poses with her kids and grandkids. A friend and client of the author, Krapff succumbed to cancer in early June. (Provided)

Emptiness. Guilt. Remorse. Anger. Sadness.

These are just a handful of the emotions one experiences when learning about a cancer diagnosis. And this is just the range of emotions experienced from someone who found out about someone else’s cancer diagnosis.

Cancer is one of the more destructive elements in the world, and the effects it has on our lives are often beyond repair. Nearly 1.7 million new cases of cancer were diagnosed in the U.S. last year. Almost 600,000 of those expected to die from the disease. In contrast, the number of military personnel who died in all non-Civil War combat in U.S. history is 644,000.

Cancer takes lives.

A bar graph from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention uses 2014 data (latest available) to illustrate cancer’s ranking as the second-leading cause of death in the U.S. (

Cancer has ripple effects for friends, families

The realities of cancer came forward again a few weeks ago when yet another friend of mine lost her life to the atrocities of the deadly disease. From her initial diagnosis of stage-four cancer earlier this year to her passing while in the hospital in early June, the devastation from colon cancer was swift yet painful and lethal.

This latest tragic loss to cancer had a significant impact on too many people that are close to me. Becky Tilly Krapff was someone I had known for nearly 20 years. Most recently, her role to me was as my first client when I created Jupiter Promotions. She and her son had created a medical equipment-retail business called Mobility Living several years ago. She was the first person to reach out to me when I started my company. It meant a lot to me then and continues to mean a lot to me now.

In addition to her role as my friend and as a client, she had special meaning to my son as his maternal grandmother. Yes, that means there was a time when she was my mother-in-law. But even as my marital relationship with her youngest daughter failed to work out several years ago, my friendship with Becky – or “Bebe” as she is known to my son and so many others – continued as strong as ever.

Kinlee Trammell Farris poses for a selfie with the author. Farris lost a battle with breast cancer. (Jeff Packham)

This isn’t the first time in the recent past I have lost a friend to cancer. A friend of mine I had known since high school lost a lengthy battle to breast cancer following hopeful remissions and temporary victories. Kinlee Trammell Farris was always up to the fight, but years of wear and tear on her body from chemotherapy and the continuous return of the deadly disease finally took its toll on her.

It is those relationships that make the effects of cancer so tough to deal with. As much as I hated to see Becky’s life affected by cancer the way it was, it was also tough knowing how difficult it was for my son and the other family and friends who were part of her life.

Those whom cancer affects directly undoubtedly suffer the most. Their families and close friends, however, should be remembered as well. The long hours spent providing medical, emotional and even physical assistance can be tough on even the most patient and giving of people. They go through the entire range of emotions while cancer ravages their loved ones, and then they go through a repetition of that emotional cycle once cancer wins. Whether it happens now or it happens later, cancer has a history of winning.

Organizations provide huge support

On a positive note, there are organizations out there doing their part to make a difference. Two of them that I’ve had the opportunity to work with are the Oklahoma City chapter of the St. Baldrick’s Foundation and 10 Strong. The national St. Baldrick’s Foundation organization actually raises more money for childhood cancer research than any non-governmental entity in the U.S. This year in Oklahoma City, volunteers raised more than $100,000 by shaving their heads for the cause.

Each of the staff members of 10 Strong is a mom whose own child spent time dealing with cancer on the 10th floor of the OU Children’s Hospital. What began in 2013 as an organized effort to bring some joy to the families in the cancer unit became an official charity in June 2015. Every Wednesday, the staff at 10 Strong visit the kids on the 10th floor. Whether it is waffle night, an ice cream social, movie night or even an Italian soda bar, Wednesdays are considered “the best day to fight cancer.”

We will eventually win

Cancer is cruel and unforgiving. Despite the more than $100 billion spent on cancer research, hundreds of thousands of people are still dying annually. Cancer doesn’t discriminate. Our grandparents are dying. Our parents are dying. Our siblings are dying. Our kids are dying.

Our spirits remain undefeated, however, and we will eventually win this war against cancer. Whether it is figuring out how to create artificial white blood cells that can fight off the cancer or learning how we can trigger the body’s defense mechanisms to work effectively against the lethal disease, we will find a way to stop the destruction it wages on our friends and families.

The question remains: Just how many more of our loved ones will we lose before that happens?