Tuesday, September 16, 2008
A Flower for a Friend
This post is dedicated to my friend, Anita. She passed away this week after a long battle with cancer. I met Anita in high school and we've been friends for about 30 years. She had such a big heart with so much love. And, she was such a strong person. She was born with Cerebral Pasly that stiffened her muscles so much that she spent her entire life in a wheel chair. It made it difficult for her to talk and be understood. It even made it difficult for her to hug and be hugged.
She would steer her wheelchair with her chin and a little joystick kind of thing. She needed assistance for pretty much everything she needed to do. Like getting dressed, going to the bathroom, brushing her teeth, eating, etc. But, all that didn't stop her from living. She typed with a pencil clenched between her teeth. She graduated from high school and went on to graduate from college with a bachelors degree. She wasn't able to get a paid job but that didn't stop her from working. She rode a public bus for many years to volunteer in a hospital and then in a hospital for elderly. She loved that because she was able to visit with the patients and felt that she was making a difference in their lives by being there for them.
She did a lot of reading and loved God with a passion that I've never seen. Even over the past couple of years when she was so sick. She was looking forward to going to heaven so much that she was excited about it. I was looking at some pictures of her that she sent to me after she was diagnosed with cancer and on the back of one of them it says: "I am imagining I am in the ocean where there is simply beautiful creatures swimming all around me. This is a fore taste of what's yet to come in the future with the Big Guy up above."
After she got sick she didn't want to see friends anymore (which I still struggle to understand), but I realize that after almost 50 years of being so strong, and with the excitement she had to meet and be with God, I need to be happy for her. I just miss her and I'm so sad that I haven't been able to see her in so long and will never see her again. But, I have to believe she is in a better place and finally free from the stiffness that has restrained her.
Thank you, Anita, for loving me like no friend ever has and being an example that I will continue to learn from. What a woman!
I also just found out that her mother passed away in September after a battle with the same terrible disease. She was 85 and was also a very strong and amazing woman. That makes four people that I know of who have died from cancer in the past year. Cancer is so unfair!!!
A note to any doctors that may read this and to any of us who may ever need to be a patient... Patients need choices and their decisions need to be respected. Anita wasn't given all the information she needed when she was diagnosed and faced surgery. The doctor decided for her that when he did a hysterectomy that he would also take her bladder out as a precaution. She never would have allowed that if she'd known. She ended up with a urine bag on the side of her chair and was so humiliated that she didn't want anyone to see her like that. It took away her dignity and her will to live. That wasn't right! She wished she could go back and figure out how to keep that from happening. Unfortanately, that wasn't possible. But, maybe others can learn from it so it doesn't happen to anyone else.