Yesterday at the OC Breast Health Symposium, photos of two breast cancer survivors were shown on the large screens in the room. The announcer said "now a moment of silence". One of my fellow support group women and I both gasped. Melinda's pictured was on the screen - we both said at the same time "I did not know that she died". Last May my husband and I attended the 1st Annual Komen Pink Tie Ball. It was 10 days after my expander switch surgery. We had 5 survivors at our table. My support group leader sat at our table with a beautiful tall blond woman. Melinda was also a survivor who attended a different support group but Sandy was the leader for both of our groups. I found out that Melinda was Stage 4. You would have never know it from looking at her. We all danced together. I wanted to go back and eat or rest and the two of them just wanted to dance. I think that Melinda had a great time that night. I did ask Sandy another time how Melinda was doing and she was ok then also. It was such a shock to see her picture.
When I got home I looked up her obituary. It said that she had fought for 5 years. I do not know her specific case, what stage was she when she was diagnosed or was she ever in remission. I do know she turned 50 in September. Who knows maybe being diagnosed at 45 she thought if I could only live until 50. She passed at the end of January. Then I thought of Sandy, our support group leader. How hard it must be for her to help so many and befriend some and then to lose some, many even younger than herself. Sandy is a 22 year survivor.
This morning Melinda was still on my mind. How someone who looked so alive and viable could be dead 9 months later. In the support group that I attend for the kids, people have died since we have been going, but usually they were too sick to have come to the meetings so mostly we met their spouses. Melinda was the first person since my diagnosis that I met and spent some time with that has passed. I was trying to put on my make-up and I started to cry thinking about her. Not a good combination crying and make-up application. My 7 year old came in and asked what was wrong and why my eyes looked funny? I did not really want to tell him because the cancer was so hard on him and I did not want him to worry about me, but my guy does not give up easily. I told him I was sad. "Why?" I tried "just because". "Just because why, Mom?". "Don't you feel well?" "I feel fine." "Is it because I had bad behavior?" I did not want him to think it was his fault - even though he has had some bad behavior the past few days. So I told him how I met Melinda and that she died and that I was sad. I also had to quickly tell him that she was sicker than me. He has always wondered that if so many other people have died from cancer why am I going to be different? He gave me a hug, but I could tell that he was still thinking about it. Just as we were heading out to church he said "well Mom Melinda must have finished her job." I asked him what he meant. " God gives you a job to do and when you finish it then he takes you up to heaven, so she must have finished hers." So here's to dancing like Melinda until we finish our jobs!