A colleague and friend passed this week. She was an inspiration to me and so many others. She lived in contact with God’s love and she shared the light of that love easily, without really trying. It just poured through her smile. She also lived with the conviction that patients have the ultimate responsibility for attending to their health care. You see, she lived with cancer for 6 years and through her own tenacity, pursued diagnostic investigation for her initial symptoms when her primary care doctor attempted to dismiss her complaint. She pursued clinical trials, dietary therapies, and treatment for the side effects of her illness and medications. She took a list of questions to doctor appointments to be prepared for those important conversations, since she, like so many other cancer patients suffered from “chemo-brain.” She read about her illnesses and about her doctors, making it a point to ask them about their experience pertaining to her specific diagnosis. She read about the harsh drugs prescribed for her to be prepared for the fatigue, sickness and other inevitable consequences to her health. She had countless conversations with her medical insurance provider regarding the coverage status of her treatments.
She was a powerful role model for me and embodied so much of what I strive to become as a human. She did not have a perfectly slender body or perfect hairstyle; chemo has damaging effects on hair, skin and many other less apparent body tissues. However, she was thankful for being alive and her gratitude for life made her truly beautiful. I frequently noticed that other people frequently noticed her.
I will miss her wisdom, playfulness, serenity, and general perspective. I will miss discussing food, make-up, fashion, family and gossip. I will miss her for the rest of my life.
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