This has been a sad week as people in my community have had to say goodbye to wonderful woman who lost her seven-year battle with breast cancer. She was an inspiration to many people because of her incredible spirit and enthusiasm for life. She was bright, inquisitive, and “did her homework” about breast cancer, always looking for new treatments and exploring experimental protocols that were being tested at major cancer centers.
Karin (not her real name) was able to strike the balance between hope and realism. She knew that the disease she was diagnosed with was serious and chose aggressive treatments in the hope of beating it. In doing that, I think she knew that she was doing all that she could do to win the battle against her cancer. I also believe that it was this knowledge that allowed her to stay so focused on living. She had a very active professional life, loved and cared for her husband and two children, served in her church, and had many close friends and acquaintances that she loved to do things with.
Karin rarely chose to bring up her illness in conversation. She would oblige others who wanted to know how she was doing but did not let the conversation stay focused there for very long. She was much more interested in what others were doing and how they had been since she last saw them. She presented herself in an upbeat way that seemed very genuine and seemed to have the effect of helping others forget, for the moment, that she had cancer.
When it became clear that her cancer had returned, Karin conferred with her treatment team about experimental treatments that she had discovered through her internet research and applied to those that seemed to have some potential to help her. Unfortunately for us all, none of those was ultimately powerful enough to defeat the disease that took her life. We will all miss her deeply.
I’d like to leave you with a quote that was given to me by a cancer survivor. It struck me the first time I read it and it still provides me with inspiration:
“There is life after a cancer diagnosis. We don’t know how many days we have left, but we didn’t know that before the diagnosis either. The incredible difference now is that we live with a heightened awareness of the preciousness of life, and hope becomes our lifelong partner.”
Published On: October 13, 2006