I met a beautiful, artistic, and firecracker of a woman in April of this year in a town about an hour away. My husband met her before I did and remarked to me that I would certainly find in her a friend...he said we were cut from the same cloth. We hit it off immediately and had an opportunity in May to spend some time together as we drove four hours for an all day workshop the next day. We talked the entire trip, on breaks from the class and all the way home and found lots in common. Except for one thing. She had breast cancer. She, after being treated harshly and "like a number", by a surgeon in the biggest city in our rural state, decided to go the natural path to wellness. She was seeing a Naturopath doctor and eating only whole foods, drinking teas, taking lots of supplements and other alternative treatments. I, being a nurse, had slightly mixed feelings about her choice but was convinced by her enthusiasm that she was doing the
right thing for herself. In fact, I grew to admire her decision and applauded her commitment to the strict regimen of her natural treatments. Her husband, who I have not yet met (but sounded a bit like my own), supported her in her decision. Her sisters however, gave her quite the hard time over it and attempted to change her mind at every opportunity. She came from a big family and was the baby so that must have been somewhat intimidating for her. Time went by as it always does and I hadn't seen her since July. I knew at that time that she was having tests done to check the progress of the cancer and make sure things were on track. I never found out the outcome of those tests as they were being put off at the time. In early November I learned that things had gotten much worse for her and that she was in hospital in and that the town was having a benefit to help raise money for her hospital bills. One person told me..."at least she is now getting treatment", which I took to mean
chemotherapy. She must have been feeling so defeated. I prayed for her but did not make the three hour journey to visit her in hospital as our time together was so brief I felt like it was a time for family and not a passing (if not friendly) stranger. Last night I heard at my own dinner table that she passed away on Friday...BLACK Friday to be exact. She left behind her husband and one son, in his early to mid 20's who was attending university. I am so saddened by this news. No, we didn't have a long history together but there was certainly a connection. One of those connections where, when you meet, you feel like you had known them your whole life.
I am still proud of my friend for making the decision she made in treating her body of this horrid disease. She didn't fail. She succumbed in the end but not without taking a journey that she might never had taken otherwise. She found that life is more than mean people, more than being a number, and more than just doing what you are told to do by those who consider themselves the authority. I will miss her, I already do.