Yesterday, I learned that one of the bloggers from the UK died. Vicki, who blogged at Stage IV and Beyond, was fondly known as Sticki Vicki in social media circles. She was diagnosed with Stage II disease in the latter part of 2007. It's almost seven years since her diagnosis and today, she is gone. One more life stolen by this disease. One more early stage patient whose disease progressed and ultimately took her life. If you don't know Vicki, take some time to poke around her blog. She was a fierce advocate and someone who frequently left comments on many of our blogs.
The evening before, I was utterly stunned to be told by a friend that Jude Callirgos had also died. Exactly two months prior, Jude was at an event in Connecticut where she WAS the event. It was a book reading and signing in a quaint New England town south of Danbury. I remember the day of the event because I had every intention of driving up to CT. The weather got dicey and I decided it best to err on the side of safety. Every ounce of shit that feel from the sky from October through what feels like last week, somehow managed to turn the roads to ice. And I stayed put, a 90 minute drive from Jude's book reading.
I know it was a huge success and the last thing I knew, Jude was in Italy sipping wine in Tuscany as she had been planning for quite some time. I also know her trip was delayed by two days because she had to address a last minute medical issue. It took her seven hours to rebook her airline tickets which is likely fourteen times longer than the medical procedure. Jude was a friend to many. Behind the scenes and despite her deteriorating health, I know she was helping others. I know this because she helped me, using her far reaching circle of friends and her knowledge of that area of CT, to put together some information I needed.
I don't recall asking, I just recall mentioning I was going to try to get to the book reading and why the location of the venue was of interest to me. She jumped into action. That's just how Jude was. I know others have shared privately how she offered to do things for them, too. Again, it was Jude who jumped in. "I can help with that....." To say I am saddened doesn't even scratch the surface. Breast Left Unsaid, Jude's book, is filled with her wry wit and dark humor.
In Jude's words, "if I managed to reach you in some way, or my fondest wish - made you laugh - I will rest easy knowing that I recounted my story for a purpose." Jude is resting easy. One can't help but laugh at her reactions in some situations and her observations of others. Jude's death, although I knew she was quite ill, came as a shock to me. In a span of two months, she did her book event, traveled through Italy for several weeks and died. Just like that. I have my thoughts about "just like that" but absent any knowledge of fact, I'm going to refrain from any conjecture. All I'm going to say is that Jude's voice and her friendship is going to be missed by so many of us.
Although Jude pokes fun at the Betty Rollins' memoir in saying "Unlike the book, I did not cry first. Not a tear. I broke shit." I did cry first when I heard of Jude's death. And then, I screamed the word FUCK at the top of my lungs. If there was a stronger, more offensive word, I can assure you, I would have used that one instead.
Unfortunately, for me, it doesn't end there. When I began writing, I knew nothing about blogging. As I poked around, knowing my intention was to focus on chemobrain, I found a blog called Confessions of a Chemo Brain. I reached out to Jaime. She is a New Yorker, she is "part of the Sloan Kettering family in NYC" and she is Italian-American. I could relate on all counts. Jaime was living with Stage IV Lung Cancer. We became friends.
She hadn't been blogging and I got worried. I left a message under one of her posts. She emailed me to let me know everything was fine and we became Facebook friends. I love Facebook. Now, not only can I stalk my kids, I can keep tabs on so many of the people I've come to cherish. Jaime was one of those people. In the frenzy of the past few months, I haven't been checking FB. I definitely need to come up with a more organized system with both Facebook and Twitter. My online life has become as disorganized as my office.
This morning, I thought about Jaime. I went to go leave her a note. The last thing Jaime posted on Facebook is so fitting of her humor and everything I love about her. I laughed.
"It's gotten to the point that if a drug company introduces me to a man on tv I assume there is something wrong with his penis."
That was written on January 26th. If my math is correct, Jaime turned 38 years old on March 5th. Sometime after midnight, the day after her birthday, she was gone from this world. Another cancer death. Another piece of my heart.
First, I cried. Or maybe I cursed.
But then, like Jude, I broke shit.
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