“When you die, it does not mean that you lose to cancer. You beat cancer by how you live, why you live and in the manner in which you live.”
This is the quote that guided Joseph Delaune through his battle with cancer. Joseph was a 21 year old junior at LSU when he was diagnosed with Ewing’s Sarcoma. Although I had only met Joseph a handful of times, I knew he was an amazing guy. His grandmother is one of my parents’ closest and dearest friends.
An Uncommon Young Love
Joseph had been dating his girlfriend Brooke for 6 years, but they had known each other since elementary school. Rumors have it that Joseph had a crush on Brooke for quite some time before they ever started dating. When Joseph found out about his cancer, Brooke didn’t blink an eye. She was at Joseph’s side every step of the way. Although Joseph insisted that she continue at LSU, Brooke still traveled to MD Anderson in Houston every weekend to care for her boyfriend. According to the family, Brooke would get there Friday afternoon and stay as late as she could Sunday before she had to return to LSU.
After a year and a half battle with cancer, the doctors let Joseph know that he was coming to the end of his journey. Joseph chose to return to his home in Baton Rouge, but there was one thing he wanted to do upon his return there. He wanted to marry Brooke.
Brooke had, in so many ways, already showed what the vows of “in sickness and health” really meant, even before she said them out loud. Joseph wanted to honor her and wanted her to share his name, to be an official part of his family.
Just a few days later, Joseph and Brooke were married in his home in front of his family and friends. Although I was not there, I can only imagine how incredibly beautiful it was. Brooke describes it in her post as her “dream come true.” She tells how Joseph told her multiple times how beautiful she looked. They celebrated the marriage that evening with food and music, and Joseph had the opportunity to visit with the many people that came into the room to visit with him.
The next morning, Joseph Delaune left this world at 5:45am. He was surrounded by his family and his wife, Brooke Delaune.
Being in the Moment at the Moment
A few days after Joseph’s funeral, I sat at my mother’s house talking with Joseph’s grandmother. She told me that Joseph wanted to become a psychiatrist and focus on mindfulness. When she explained to me what he described as mindfulness, it immediately described his entire journey in just that one word. Mindfulness is being in the moment at that moment. It’s being present for now, not for what’s tomorrow or what was yesterday.
Mindfulness was Joseph’s journey. It is what made him journey proud. He was present for each step. He was aware of his present moment for that moment, not for what the future might be or what the past has dealt him. He was present down to his last 24 hours when he looked at Brooke to say, “I Do.” It was Joseph’s mindfulness that allowed him to create the love story that beat cancer. He beat cancer “by how he lived and in the manner in which he lived.”
Joseph lived up to his motto.
In loving memory of Warner Joseph Delaune III.
How do you practice mindfulness? How often do you find yourself in a place or a moment, but not really present at that place or at that moment?