I started this post shortly after Elizabeth Edward's passing in December 2010. I keep going back to this post periodically and added and deleting thoughts. Each time I am usually prompted by another friend's advancing health issues.
Elizabeth Edward's death provided us new lessons in death, cancer, dignity and cancer treatment. She was educating to the end when she announced that her treatment would no longer be productive. She joins a list of famous women who have helped make cancer more understandable and less fearsome.
Real people get cancer as do famous people. But often we don't understand what they are going through unless we have been there ourselves. But even then, its can be difficult to understand as the treatments vary as do reactions to them. Some people tolerate them better than others. Not all lose their hair. Some find they react to the treatments in bad ways. I have friends who could not complete treatment because they were allergic to chemotherapy drugs or could not tolerate them for other reasons.
I have numerous friends who have succumbed to cancer since I started writing this post. Last weekend I got together with a breast cancer friend and she said that all her friends with cancer were gone, including the too young ones. There are feelings of guilt when our friends are gone. Why them when, before cancer, they had so much life left for them?
But as each of friends go, we learn from how they lived their life and die. We may not agree with them - why didn't you get your affairs in order earlier? We may admire them for what they accomplished. But we always still miss them.