Saturday, November 25, 2006

They Say Bad News Comes In Threes

I have no idea where this saying comes from but at times it does seem to ring true. My poor mother was the unfortunately person to deliver all three pieces of bad news this time :o( I told DH that I wasn't sure I wanted to talk to Mom if she called again because it was just too depressing! Three people that I have known have died in a period of just a few days. One I had met maybe once or twice when I was younger and he was well known in the community where I grew up. The second was actually an old boss of my mother's. He was a big burly man that loved to smoke cigars. He was always very nice and generous and he was a good man. The third person I never met face to face but she has been the one that has created the biggest impact of sadness in me.

Her name was Kim Hiltz and she was just 33 years old. Young wasn't she? She died after a heroic fight with breast cancer, the evil nemesis of any woman. Even though Kim was only two years younger, she was diagnosed the same year that I was. I guess that was the big hurrah into the new millennium for both of us. I never found out about Kim until a few years ago though. DH and I were at a Christmas craft fair buying a holiday bandana for Brie when I met Rosalie, a neighbor of Kim's. The money raised from the bandanas was being donated to breast cancer research so of course the subject came up and I shared my story. A few weeks later Rosalie surprised me by mailing another dog bandana. As a thank you, I stitched up a breast cancer ornament and dropped it off at her house. Shortly after, Rosalie called and asked me to make another ornament for a special friend of hers that was going through the same fight I did. Unknown to me but this special friend was Kim :o)

A year later is when I finally made the connection. It hit with a force of a thousand bricks, all the separate pieces falling into place and completing the puzzle. It made me feel good that my special ornament made it into the hands of a very special woman. Kim's story was told to me by Rosalie and it was even in the newspaper like mine had been a few years before that :o) Unfortunately Kim's cancer was more aggressive than mine and they were raising money to send her down to Texas for a stem-cell transplant. I was more than happy to donate money to their successful fundraising. A website was put up that told of her story and she and her husband even adopted a Golden Retriever puppy named Hope.

Upon her return home, I made plans in my head that I wanted to meet this fellow survivor. To me Kim was special and I knew that we could relate better to each other because of our ages. We were both in our early 30s with our whole lives and family planning still ahead of us. It might not appear apparent but there are many different issues that younger cancer survivors face. There are also limited help resources as well. As I stated in the beginning of my story, I never did meet Kim. Like I said, I had every intention to and I made plans to many, many, many times but I just never went through with them. Why? It's simple...I had no words of encouragement. I had nothing positive to say to her. I didn't want to sit face to face with her and try to figure out why one of us got to live and the other did not.

They say I'm "one of the lucky ones". The doctors say that if I never went in for the breast reduction, I'd probably be where Kim is now. So what made me listen to my husband and go for that operation? What made the doctor not take Kim's lump more seriously? Why does one woman get to live but the other die? How come my husband still has his wife but another becomes a widower? It's hard to keep that happy face and positive attitude. Every day I have to get up and look in the mirror and be reminded of what I went through. I look at my body and see what has been taken away from me but I'm expected to be proud of these battle scars. I'm told I should be happy that I'm alive. And I am...most days. But then I wonder which is the worst sentence - to die early or to live each day fearing it's your last.

I know Kim has gone to a better place, one that is free of pain and worry. I'm happy to hear that she was at peace with dying because there is nothing to be afraid of. I've seen someone die before me and while it may look frightening, it truly is peaceful. It's possible to know when that time comes and when you're ready, I expect it's even better. The unfortunate part is that Kim has left behind a husband, a family and lots of friends but she did not leave this world without touching the lives of others. She fought and lost an awful battle but she remains an inspiration :o)


Faith Ann said...

Wow... how very sad for her family and all those who have followed her journey.

Karen said...

Hugs Cathey, thats a very sad story