Yesterday I went to the wake for a friend, Sue, who had been diagnosed with breast cancer 21 years ago. When I met her in the breast cancer support group I used to attend probably around five years ago, she had been stage IV for a number of years - probably more than a dozen.
She was quiet when she started attending the support group but then started to open up about her story. She had a cheerful smile and a twinkle in her eyes. No matter what she was going through you would always smile. Over the years, I helped convince her to go on a Casting For Recovery retreat and watched her learn to fly fish - we never caught anything but it was the fun.
I stopped attending the support group several years ago but would still see her at events hosted by the center which runs the group. She was always smiling and poised, never letting the inner stresses dampen her spirits.
I met her family yesterday. Her husband, who I had never met before, asked how I knew her and I told him about the breast cancer support group. He said that it was a wonderful little organization and told me the story that she had told him. One of the other members of the support group came up to Sue and told her that she was an inspiration to her on how to live with breast cancer.
I thought about that and decided that I agree. She had late stage cancer and greeted the world with a smile and a twinkle in her eye. She didn't let it stop her from trying something new and having fun. I am inspired as well.