Last week, my beautiful Aunt Cathy passed away. She was surrounded by her friends and family and in no pain, and that is a blessing.
It’s hard for me to figure out how to talk about her. Not only because of the emotional situation but because I’m not sure how many of the facts were hidden from me, in her desire to keep everything positive and happy. That’s how she lived her life. That said, I will share what I know as best I know it.
More than twenty years ago, she was diagnosed with breast cancer. She went through chemo and radiation, and though we children were shielded from her suffering, we all realized what she was going through and now I look back and am amazed at how bravely she handled everything.
Unfortunately, there is no cure for breast cancer, and while she was deemed cancer free for years (at least as far as I was told), five years ago, the cancer returned, this time in her spine. We all knew this meant it was terminal. But we didn’t know how many years she had. Maybe one. Maybe ten. Maybe twenty. And we all hoped for the best.
But in the past year or so, the treatments had stopped working. Her tumors weren’t shrinking. But rather than be sad, this was seen as an opportunity. She and my uncle and cousins treated every moment with joy. They spent a lot of time together and truly made the most of every day.
Just over two weeks ago, the night before I ran the Rock ‘n’ Roll USA Half with Team Fight, I got a call that Cathy had taken a turn for the worst and that this was it. My uncle didn’t expect her to survive the weekend. She was at home, attended by wonderful hospice nurses (who are true angels, if ever angels existed) and she wasn’t in pain. But her life was coming to an end.
When I saw her at Christmas, I knew it was likely that this was the last time I would see her. But that didn’t make that phone call any easier.
For the past two weeks, we’ve all been waiting. Wishing that we could be waiting for good news, but knowing that the only good news that could come was that she would be released from her suffering. There was no miracle cure coming for her.
And just after 2pm last Tuesday, March 26, she passed away.
Cancer sucks. Cancer is an awful, horrible beast that steals away wonderful people all too soon. And it makes me sad and it makes me angry.
But Cathy wouldn’t want us to hold onto anger. She was one of those people who saw the good in everything. She was such a positive person, and what she would want more than anything is for good to be done in the world. So today, as we say our last goodbyes, it would mean the world to me if you would make a point to do something good for someone else in Cathy’s honor. I know it would mean the world to her.