I remember Dawn. My first Sunflower Sister. Dawn and I shared a hospital room in 2007 while I received a two-day chemo infusion. Dawn was in for blood transfusions...last ditch life-extending blood transfusions. After repeated complaints and tests for everything from Crohn's disease to irritable bowel syndrome over a two year period of time, she had ultimately been diagnosed with Stage 4 ovarian cancer . That night she and I talked until the wee hours of the morning. She had asked her doctor what the next steps would be and he said there weren't very many options "You're a Stage 4 after all!", he said. I was furious. I couldn't digest no hope. She said things to me that night that she hadn't told another living soul and I will cherish those moments forever and keep her stories safe. Dawn died a very short time afterwards.
I remember Anita. My first cancer sister. I shared a hospital room with her on two different occasions and visited her for months until her death. She too had been through almost two years of back-and-forthing with various doctors until an accurate diagnosis was made. She had a very obscure form of cancer and if you read our website page on Hope, you will recognise the words - overheard by me - spoken to Anita by a palliative care nurse - "There is always hope, it just comes in different forms". Anita was an extremely elegant octogenarian - yes, above all, a true lady... and she taught me how to live until you die.
I remember Ingrid. A stunningly beautiful, thirty-one year old mother of an infant and a two year old. Ingrid had triple negative, stage four breast cancer discovered while she was pregnant with her little boy. I met Ingrid during the summer of 2010 when I was hospitalized for a possible bowel obstruction. She was on the other side of the curtain sobbing. I asked if she wanted a visitor and she said yes. I approached her and asked what I could do for her and she said nothing - she said she was crying for me. Me? She said yes, she had heard the surgeon say that I was inoperable and that where he came from they don't even feed (intravenously) terminal patients anymore. Happily for me, her interpretation was out of context and she was so glad. She went home that day and we emailed twice a week until she stopped responding. Weeks later, I learned that she had passed away just before Christmas.
I remember Wendy. This one is really tough...Wendy was not only a Sunflower Sister but like a true sister to me and as well, a catalyst for the inception of this website. I miss her. Wendy would say that she wasn't courageous - she just wanted to live. She would laugh when the oncologist offered her a new treatment or procedure saying - "I guess he thinks I'm going to live or he wouldn't be investing this kind of money in me". Wendy asked me to bring her a funny little leather flip flop ornament key chain back from Cuba in January of this year. I never got to give it to her or a chance say goodbye.
November 11th is Veterans Day in the USA and Remembrance Day in Canada. These four women are true examples of cancer veterans, my sisters, and most worthy of remembrance.