Guess who died!
Near the end of her life my grandmother often greeted us with those words before a ‘Hello, how are you?”, crossed her lips. I resented it. It was a morbid game my 93 year old grandma made us play.
On reflection, I understand her better now than I ever did. In part because of my own crowding mortality and in part because it’s a conversation I initiate myself too often.
My choice would be to never have to play it again but I have chosen a path of advocacy for lung cancer patient and their caregivers. This brings hundreds of other survivors into my orbit. I’ve mentioned before that there is a fast bond develops between survivors. Some are faster and deeper than others.
Every death resonates with me. Each one important to me for a reason. Some much too young, others too old to survive the rigors of treatment. Many had a smaller cancer burden than mine. Others found in the very early stages just don’t make it. I’ve met survivors who’ve made it 25 years.
There are two deaths weighing heavily on me this week. One pending, one gone. Pending is a woman whose family has decided she should not know how sick she is. Brain metastases left her unconscious for several days. I have been asked not to call or check in because I might give her status away. When we last spoke she could not walk, and she argued constantly with her daughter about food and company. She knows something is very wrong and she is terrified. This, I fear, will not be a gentle landing.
The second is the passing of a young woman I met at an educational conference sponsored by LUNGevity in April of 2016. At the age of 26 Elizabeth ‘Lizzie’ Dessureault was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer, at the time she was pregnant. She began chemotherapy and after the 3rd round delivered a healthy baby. A short time later she learned she had a targetable mutation and for a while her disease was controlled with a targeted therapy. Time ran out for her last week and I can’t begin to imagine the pain her family is experiencing. Lizzie lived life to the fullest making and recording happy memories. Enough to carry her husband and infant child through a lifetime.
So now I reflect. One life I will celebrate the other I shall mourn. Make your life and death worth celebrating.
Picture of Elizabeth Dessurauelt courtesy of ‘From Lizzie’s Lungs’ blogpost. https://fromlizzieslungs.com
More about LUNGevity at: https://www.lungevity.org/