Thursday, January 05, 2006

A necessary amendment to my "people I admire" list

A woman I used to work with was diagnosed with breast cancer several years ago. She underwent massive treatment and they thought they had it beat, but a couple of years later the cancer reappeared in her brain. For the past few years, the firm has received emails with updates on her condition, her treatments, her prognosis. It's been a rocky road - lots of two steps forward, one step back. Most recently, sadly, it's switched to mainly one step forward, two steps back. In a very short period of time, she's had six brain surgeries. The cancer is now in her spinal fluid as well, and they're running out of treatment options.

This woman is young - 40s or early 50s. She has a preteen daughter. It hardly seems fair. Yet through this long battle, the spirits of her entire family have not wavered. They manage to be optimistic and realistic at the same time. The email updates sent by her husband are always honest but hopeful, celebrating small wins while acknowledging their losses, and every one includes a healthy side-dish of humor. Today's update includes, "She has no pain, except when I say something nice about our president."

I'm always saddened by these emails, but (though I know this sounds cheesy) also inspired. Today, in particular, I am in awe. If I ever find myself in such a situation, these are the kinds of people I want surrounding me. I can only hope to face my own difficulties with as much grace.

They are in my thoughts. Please keep them in yours as well.

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