Category Archives: Cancer

One day past dead…..

Heading Home!

Heading Home!

October 21, 2015

Yesterday, I was talking with a friend who is battling and not winning a nasty cancer. She asked me what the date was, ( as we all know opiates can mess with your sense of time). When I told her it was October 21, she  called for her husband and asked “wasn’t yesterday supposed to be my last possible day?”  “Oh, she said, I guess I missed my DEAD DAY and we laughed!”

My friend, who is usually very good with deadlines, was happy to miss this one. She’s been feeling slightly better and was going to the Dr. to be evaluated for getting somewhat better. The good news is she had an outing on a gorgeous Fall Day, made me spit out my coffee with her humor and has once again showed me how to live and die at the same time.

Life and Death coincide with only a thin line to separate us. The path to dying is paved with living. We talked about the card campaign I got started. She wondered if she was supposed to “know” all the people she got cards from. I told her no, that these were my friends who I had worked with to help our mutual friends who have battled cancer. Members of the Queen’s Court take cancer pretty seriously and reach out to help others, the way they want to be helped. Catherine’s response to that explanation was “beautiful.” There is beauty, love and ugliness when you commit to helping people on their journey with Cancer. Cancer is a mean lonely process and having someone at the ready is  certainly better than having no one. My friend has legions that have loved her and been loved by her for decades,an adoring husband and children, but this is her cancer and her fight.

People identified as closer to their ending are pretty much like they have always been. My friends have taught me about love, living, fighting for life, death and the process of dying. They have all given me so much more than I could ever give back. Most people do not want to talk about the “hard stuff in life”, at least when they are healthy, as if bringing the discussion of one person’s plight will “ruin” their day. Cancer is not contagious, so you can’t catch it and the memory I will always have of my soon to be departed friend will now include her perfectly timed “I missed my DEAD-Line comments and the laughter we shared as I spit coffee on myself.” She doesn’t want to leave the planet, but she  is very focused on the here and now just like we all want to be.

I hope you get a reality laugh today. Catherine, her name means smart, sassy, brave, funny, irreverent, creative, artistic, powerful and adored by legions will be greatly missed. I will treasure my coffee stains and 40 plus years of having you in my life.

Today, November 25, 2015 the battle is over and you will never be forgotten by any of us.

Catherine Whitehead Snow Knight you are legend and we will be laughing for years with your quips alone. I am thankful to have had you in my life.


Lessons on Privilege from a Brave Warrior!

April 26th in Nashville is the annual marathon and half marathon to benefit cancer. People run and volunteer to help fight Cancer. I ask you all to think of this smiling face as you think about the cause of fighting cancer. My friend did not win her battle, but she would not want us to stop fighting. This Brave Warrior taught me many lessons, so I dedicate this blog to Marvelous Marsha!


I have had the privilege of assisting several people undergoing treatment for cancer and sadly this sometimes includes their transition off the planet. Each has responded to their journey differently but, all have helped me far more than I could have ever helped them. Helping a friend, while they find the strength to fight for their life, creates its own community populated by friends, family and healthcare workers; united and invested in a common goal of love and support.

There is nothing quite like sitting across table from a friend who has already lost her hair, the stamp of a devastating diagnosis and have her say, “I am so blessed. I feel like one of the luckiest people in the world.”  Not only do her words put my concerns in perspective but, it serves to remind me that while we do not get to choose what happens to us; we do have choices in our responses.

All I can do is be present as they fight, share their joy at each victory and stand with them in their fear. It is hard to see a friend suffer as medicines are adjusted to ease the pain and size of tumors pressing relentlessly on nerves already sensitive and raw. Hardest of all are those silent moments when the misery is so great a tear slides down my brave warrior’s face.

I can simply be grateful that I am “honored” by my friend’s trust that I will travel with them wherever the path leads…