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What really matters

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

I just received the news that I have been both expecting and dreading. One of my dearest friends, Marilyn, passed away today. I needed to write this to help process, to honor her, and to remind us all about what really matters.

Marilyn and I (our families, really) became friends about 25 years ago while we were attending the same church. We spent many hours laughing and talking and doing things together. Then jobs took us to different parts of the world, but we stayed in touch. Every time we talked on the phone or were able to get together, it was as if we'd never been apart; it was dangerous to call one another as it usually meant a 3 hour marathon conversation, but we loved it. We always asked if there was a party going on when we called one another, because that's what it felt like.

Somewhere around 1989, Marilyn discovered a lump in her breast. I remember one phone call in particular around midnight; she was crying and so afraid, and all I could do was talk, laugh, cry, and pray with her through it. She went through chemo; lost all her hair; and she beat the cancer.

Several years later, while she and her family were living in Canada, breast cancer returned. More chemo; more treatments; and finally the cancer was gone. She was on Tamoxifen and the cancer stayed away.

Later, her doctor at the time decided she had been on Tamoxifen too long; he was concerned about the long-term use of the drug. After much consideration, she reluctantly went off. The cancer returned--with a vengeance. More treatment; some success, but the cancer eventually spread. The doctors were not hopeful at all when her neck was affected, but she survived surgery and some tumors shrank. We rejoiced at every small sign that she was beating the cancer again.

She grew weaker and had to use a scooter to get around; it was obvious the cancer was slowly winning. Still, she kept a positive attitude and encouraged others who were getting treatment for cancer. Where there is life, there is hope.

Last week, we got a message from her middle daughter that she was not eating much and was fading. She had another scan, and this time the doctor said that she had perhaps 2-3 weeks left. Her middle daughter is a nurse; she confided that she thought it would be maybe 1-2 weeks. We frantically started checking airfare to Houston and asked if we should come; we didn't want to intrude on the family's time with her, but we wanted to see her. To compound our dilemma about going, my husband had a critical job interview yesterday so we knew we couldn't leave before that. The consensus was that no, we should not come; I had a sense that leaving Wednesday (today) would be too late, and indeed, that was a God sense. Now we wait to see if there is a way for us to make a trip for the funeral to celebrate her life; we grieve our loss but know she is already dancing with the Lord she loves and enjoying the party to beat all parties.

Cancer is a thief; it robs people of not only life, but it robs them of dignity and joy. It robs families of their fathers, mothers, sons, and daughters. I signed up to raise money and walk in the Susan G. Komen 3-Day Walk this year because I'm tired of letting cancer seem to win. I've lost too many family members, friends, and co-workers to cancer. I was afraid to sign up because it's a hefty fund-raising commitment, but if I have to sell things to raise the money myself, I'm going to do it this year. We have to fight back; find causes and treatments for one form of cancer and we will find them for other forms.

Remember what really matters: people. Go hug the ones you love and tell them today how important they are to you. Take care of yourself and make sure those you love are doing the same. Celebrate life.

Enjoy the party, Marilyn. You got to start before we were quite ready for you to go, but we'll be joining you one day.

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Member Comments About This Blog Post
  • JMARIES51
    So sorry for your loss.
    1245 days ago
  • STFRENCH
    I'm so sorry for your loss emoticon
    1276 days ago
  • GAYEMC
    So sorry to hear about the loss of your dear friend.
    1277 days ago
  • TRI_BABE
    Sorry for your loss. I lost my father to cancer in October. It's a terrible thing. My condolences.
    1280 days ago
  • MARILYNROBERT
    Thank you for telling us about your friend Marilyn. My dad has had throat/neck cancer and I flew to WA state to be with him during treatment. He's in remission now and we are so very thankful. I'm so sorry you lost Marilyn to this terrible disease. emoticon
    1280 days ago
  • ROXIT22222
    Huggs to you.
    1281 days ago
  • CASSIECAT
    I'm sorry for your loss. Thank you for sharing about your friend here.
    1281 days ago
  • WALKAWAY
    I am so sorry for the loss of your friend. This is a beautiful blog to honor your friend and her memory. My prayers go out to all of you.

    emoticon emoticon
    1281 days ago
  • HOBBESIS49
    Dear GetFit2Live,

    I wrote this poem in 2008 in response to my best friend dying of breast cancer & SOON after another friend diagnosed.

    There is a burglar in the house
    taking friends
    first stealing the calm and
    then robbing quietly while
    while I watch

    I am so so very sorry for your news..

    Thank you for sharing with us the beauty of friendship and the strength of your friend during her battle with cancer.

    Even though I've never met you my heart goes out to you in a big way today.

    emoticon Jane
    1281 days ago

    Comment edited on: 3/28/2013 11:46:03 AM
  • CBAILEYC
    I am so, so sorry.
    emoticon emoticon
    C~
    1281 days ago
  • MISSROCKABILLY
    I'm sorry to hear of the loss of your friend, what a beautiful tribute you have written to her. My thoughts are with you, her family, and all her friends.
    emoticon
    1281 days ago
  • -POLEDANCEGIRL-
    emoticon My Aunt fought cancer for 16 years. Similar story. They are dancing together :)
    1281 days ago
  • BEMILLER30
    emoticon emoticon emoticon So sorry for your loss. I can't even imagine what that is like, to go through something like that. You all are in my thoughts and prayers.
    1281 days ago
  • STHAX10
    emoticon My heart felt sympathies. emoticon I lost my mother to the effects of the treatment on her body fighting breast cancer. I also have a friend that has been fighting for 4 years, an aggressive form. Her neck is now involved. They cannot remove it, and she can no longer receive radiation as she has met her limit. Now she is fighting it with an alternative experimental treatment. She is not even 40. She has two daughters still in school. She continues to fight for them.

    May you have peace in the fact that there is no longer a battle for Marilyn. She is just getting the party started. Celebrate her life with all of your love.
    1281 days ago
  • 4CYNDI
    emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon
    I am so sorry to hear about the loss of your friend. It is always hard to lose a loved one, especially to some illness like cancer. You are doing your friendship proud by walking. I wish you success and that you can make it back to celebrate a very fine life.
    1281 days ago
  • TRAVELGRRL
    My dad has battled cancer for over a year and is now terminal and off treatment; my 50-year-old SIL was recently diagnosed with skin cancer that has spread to her liver, and my best friend from grade school died from breast cancer in December.
    I salute your commitment to the Komen 3-day walk and am very sorry for the loss of your dear friend. emoticon
    1281 days ago
  • MIQUEY73
    My sympathies on the loss of your friend. I can't even imagine what you and the family are going thru. HUGS
    1281 days ago
  • MOTTAMAMALOU
    My heart goes out to her family and to you, her friend.
    God Bless her!

    emoticon
    1281 days ago
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