Today I had a delightful lunch out with my friend Karen. She and her husband are up from Jacksonville for a big photography conference at the Gaylord Opryland.
But today at lunch she broke some very sad news. Her friend Marie, who had been battling breast cancer for the past four years, died last week. Today was actually the memorial service.
Karen hadn’t wanted to tell me. I never even met her friend Marie, but she was an inspiration nonetheless. She wasn’t even supposed to live the last three years she did. But she kept setting goals for herself, and she willed herself to meet them. At least three times she’d been put on hospice and told she had less than six months. This time she willed herself to live to see the New Year, but that’s all she had left.
When I was first diagnosed last year, Karen told me all about her. She used her as an example of why it was so important to keep a positive attitude. Because it really could help.
It did. In two chemos my tumor shrunk from grapefruit-sized to golf ball-sized. Not all of that was my positive attitude. Much of that was because of the medicine and the astounding number of prayers.
But keeping hopeful, inspired, and motivated? I used Marie as a benchmark of how important that could be.
So Marie, I didn’t even know you, but you made a HUGE impact on me nonetheless. I know it was much too early for you to go. You’ve left behind a huge hole from what I know from Karen. Everyone who met you loved you. And from the sounds of it you had quite the family. I know their hearts are grieving. I hope you’ve found peace from the pain. That you suffered all you did for as long as you did…you were one tough cookie! But your will and grit, combined with your zest and optimism, have had an impact on reaches even further than you can imagine. Thank you for setting such an amazing example of how to live with cancer until your dying day.
Tomorrow I go in for a three month checkup. I haven’t been in since last October. This will be my first non-scan follow-up. (There will be blood work, and possibly a chest x-ray, but no CT scan.)
I hope I’m still doing fine. I feel good, but there’s always that niggling of “what if” now. Maybe it’ll go away one day. I don’t know. The trauma of all I’ve been through is still fresh.
But I am alive, and as long as I’m alive I will live each day like Marie did: bravely, with a smile, and above all a can-do attitude combined with a will of steel.
Rest in peace, Ms. Marie.