I have to say that this is not a good way to start the new year. This morning, one of my friends from the high school I used to work at, died from breast cancer. This woman was a bright, shining star.
She was diagnosed with breast cancer and then went into remission for a couple years. Then she found out it had returned around the same time Jeff was diagnosed. She even had the same oncologist as Jeff so we used to occasionally run into each other at appointments.
She, like Jeff, was such a positive person. She took her diagnosis and treatments like a champ. She continued to sporadically work up until finals week just a couple of weeks ago.
Because I switched schools a few weeks into the semester I wasn't able to see her very often, but I made it a point to see her over Thanksgiving. She was definitely struggling but I was hopeful that she would make it until the summer. We discussed ways for her to maintain her health benefits on a limited working schedule. We discussed her going on catastrophic leave since she never paid into long term disability thinking she would never need it and then she didn't qualify because of her pre-existing condition. I helped her make a list of priorities.
She, deep down inside, knew that she could not continue working a full schedule. Students are exhausting when you are healthy, let alone when you are going through multiple rounds of chemotherapy and radiation and consistently going to the ER to get your lungs drained so you can breathe.
But through it all, she maintained hope and a cheerful disposition. She worried about failing her students. She worried about how her husband, who hasn't worked in a few years, would be able to keep the house if she had to stop working. She worried about her friends. She worried more about other people than about herself. Even through her worries, she always smiled and looked at the bright side. She is an inspiration.
I really hate cancer.
I hope Jeff was there to greet her and they are pain free, kicking back, and having a beer together.