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Posted on Fri, Apr 29, 2011 : 7:30 a.m.

Family and friends are the shining stars that light our way

By Betsy de Parry

A few months back, I wrote An Open Letter to Family and Friends, in which I recognized that it's not easy to be a family member or friend of a cancer patient.

At the end, I wrote: Each one of you is a connection to my life before cancer, and your love and friendship gives me hope for life afterwards. You give me the reason and strength to carry on when I feel like giving up. No one can do this for me but you, and I have never needed or appreciated your love and friendship more.

I was about to expound on how much our families and friends mean to us, especially during cancer, but I was having trouble finding the right words when I stumbled on to a song that says it more beautifully than I could.

The song, "Family (My Cancer Survival Song)," was written and performed by Manny Estrella as a tribute to his family and close friends shortly after he was diagnosed last year with Hodgkin lymphoma at the age of 30. Manny has undergone chemotherapy and on this very day (whoo-hoo!) celebrates completing several weeks of radiation.

Manny sums up what we feel about our families when he says, "I always felt the love from my family, but during this hard time, their love shone brighter than the stars. Having my family by my side was, and always will be, a true blessing." I couldn't agree more.

I think you'll agree that Manny puts into words what many of us don't know how to say and that his song is a stirring and fitting tribute to those who put their lives on hold to help us rescue ours. And so if you've ever wondered how to let your family and friends know how much they mean, you have a song to share.

Manny Estrella lives in Miramar, Fla. He's been writing songs and performing since he was 12.

And Manny, here's to many healthy years ahead. Your talent brightens the world!

Next Friday, May 6: U-M Scientists Are At The Forefront of Cancer Stem Cell Research

Previous installments of Candid Cancer are archived here.

Betsy de Parry is the author of The Roller Coaster Chronicles, a book about her experience with cancer and the shorter, serialized version she wrote for Find her on Facebook or email her.