A post came through on my Facebook feed last night. I had to look at it twice, because at first, I could have sworn, that it was some sort of shared post, or perhaps even someone had hacked my friend’s account.
I have been in this position many times. In twenty-five years of cancer survivorship, I have met over a thousand people, and I have also said goodbye to so many. When it comes to long term survivors, for some reason, the pain and the loss is even more severe, and as far as I am concerned, cruel. A person goes through enough in their life fighting cancer, to have to go through another challenge with their body, or as in the case of many long term survivors like me, many health challenges.
But there it was, a post, written by my friend’s husband. I did not read the post right away because in spite of having witnessed this more than a hundred times, I still hoped for something different. I skipped that post, and went to the prior post, where my friend had posted something miscellaneous, and the post before that, and before that. Clearly, there was nothing to be concerned about. And so I went back to the top post, already being populated with comments. This was going to be yet another goodbye.
My friend’s husband posted that his wife of 35 years, had passed away due to complications from a medical procedure.
Sadly, this is the life of a long term survivor who battles late side effects from the treatments that were used decades ago. I know, because I have a lot of those issues myself. What is an otherwise “routine” test or procedure for some, is not so for us. To a doctor who is untrained what to expect with a complicated health history such as ours, results can be tragic.
I was actually introduced to my friend, by her sister, who sought me out for support for her sister, who had been struggling with cardiac issues related to the same cancer I had, Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. As I have often been over the years, I have not just offered support and counsel to patients, but also family members who struggle to understand the many effects and issues of cancer patients and survivors.
The unexpected and shocking loss that I feel at this moment, pales in comparison to what my friend’s family is going through at this moment. Jackie, you and your family are in my thoughts and prayers as you mourn for your sister.