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One Year Ago Today... 
27th-Aug-2007 10:07 am
One year ago today, Elissa Hadley lost her fight to cervical cancer and the world of everyone that ever spent time in her presence got smaller and colder. Later today I'll repost all of her music so that everyone who has not heard it finally has a chance and can share it with others. Also, I would like everyone to read this post and link to it, please - for my sweet little E.

Elissa Hadley, 1 April 1970-27 August 2006

I am better
I am braver
I am bird wings and birthday cake
Flying starlight clean again
I am flying starlight clean
I am
I am twinkly
Like a tree
At Christmas time
Thank you
Thank you
Thank you...

This is Elissa's song that was played at the close of her memorial service. She sang it for the Breathlanes album "For Now". Click the green 'play' button to start the music.
Download it: [.mp3 zip file]
27th-Aug-2007 09:43 pm (UTC)
One of my best friends was diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer last month. Through chemo, her tumor has gotten smaller. This week her hair began coming out. She will have surgery in October, but we don't know what kind of surgery - mastectomy? Double Mastectomy? Lumpectomy?. When I found out, I thought of Elissa because I know she was a light in your life, just like my friend Karri is in mine. It seems impossible to think someone who burns so fiercely, loves so intensely, lives so out loud, can be taken down by a piddly tumor or a disease. It seems too small to take such giant souls.

What happens now? How long did Elissa have cancer before it took over? Was it not detected soon enough? Was it an aggressive form of cancer? DId she go through chemo and surgery? Did it travel to other parts of her body? Good grief, I'm asking so many questions, jsut to hear "your friend will be all right," but the fact is, I don't know that one hundred percent. I cannot stand that Karri has cancer. I can't stand what she is going through. She is so positive, feels pretty good right now, and we're all hoping for a fast recovery. She has a long road ahead of her. I hope she has a long life ahead of her at the end of this tragedy.

I was sorry when I heard about it last year, and I am sorry now that you lost your friend.
27th-Aug-2007 10:06 pm (UTC)
It should be noted that everyone is different and that Elissa's cancer was cervical in origin, and it is unknown at why it attacked her like it did. Here is the chronology:
* November, 2005 - Elissa has a pap smear which turns up nothing out of the ordinary
* February, 2006 - First cervical cancer diagnosis, begins 6 weeks of chemotherapy.
* May, 2006 - Elissa is declared cancer free.
* July, 2006 - After symptoms reappear, Elissa goes back into the hospital. Her cancer had metastasized and begun spreading to other organs.
* August, 2006 - The cancer is declared inoperable, two days later she enters hospice.
* August 27, 2006 - Elissa passes away at 1:30AM, only 8 days after entering hospice care.
This is why I wanted people to link to my other post, because we have to get proactive and educate. I've done the leg work in getting the information available, and with any luck once we get the foundation up and running one of these days I can continue to help prevent this from happening to other women - like Elissa and Karri.

Cancer is no a death sentence, N - it's just a disease. It happens and it is horrible, but we have to keep perspective and do whatever we can to be strong for the people that depend on us and take every day as it comes, making sure to make that day like it is the last one we'll ever see. Keep an open mind, laugh when it's funny and cry when it hurts, and always know that I love you my sweet, dear friend - and if you need me, I will always make the time.
27th-Aug-2007 10:14 pm (UTC)
You are truly wonderful. I get beset with sadness when I hear the fear and sadness in my friend's voice. It's hard for me to coach from the sidelines: "Be tough! Don't worry about your hair!" when I know I don't know shit, but she needs me, and needs to hear positive things. We surround her with love and faith that she will beat this, and lend support daily. I keep telling her, "You don't have cancer, Karri. You have a cancerous lump in your breast, that is all. You can beat this tumor. You can get rid of it and be well."

Life is precious. The best we can do is simply live it to our fullest potential.

Thank you for taking the time.
27th-Aug-2007 10:33 pm (UTC)
We can easily get caught up in things like beauty and such, but really - we're not our hair, we're not breasts or pecs or anything like that. If in fact she DOES 'have cancer', she is not her disease. You know what I mean?

If she loses her hair, shave your own head and buy a fun little wig right along with her. It grows back, and is an amazing show of solidarity in the face of fear and powerlessness. You might even like it - she might as well.

I can't help but think of my friend Carolyn who had a radical mastectomy and felt worthless and ugly and half a woman, she felt robbed of her femaleness and only wanted for just one day to again laugh in spite of it all. So I made her a card that said "Hey - NICE TIT!" To this day, she says it is the best thing anyone ever gave her and it keeps her determined and motivated to accept only the things she has control of and dismiss the rest. I told her early on that there were a few things I understood - I understood that we were both scared and unsure. I understood that I had no idea what she needed from me, but I was going to figure it out along the way. I understood that there were going to HAVE to be times where we would unplug from it all and at least for a while pretend like it wasn't happening (I even got us t-shirts to wear for those days that said "I reject your reality and substitute my own") and most of all, I understood that I was not going to lie to her. I made sure she understood that she was going to die, and so was I, and so is everyone we know - and who knows really how or when it happens. The difference is that her own clock started ticking a bit louder than the rest of us, but it wasn't a death march - it was a "GETON WITH IT" alarm.

Never once did I tell her "I know how you feel", because I didn't - it was only happening to me vicariously through her, even though it was terrifying me and I felt like it was 'our' battle. She's been in complete remission for over 7 years now and is a better, more authentic 'her' than ever before. She told me a while back that she's convinced that a part of her recovery is in knowing that no matter what, I was always realistic with her about everything and didn't waste our time during that period waiting for her to die, but instead reminding her what living was about. She made her peace with everything and accepted that hope and a positive attitude was all she had going for herself when the medicines and surgeries and chemo had done their parts. Best of all, she reminded me that in a similar situation, we should all be so lucky.

Love your friend to the tips of your fingers, N - and do what you have to do to put your fears aside and make everything as normal as it can be as often as possible. Almost more than wanting to be cancer free, Karri wants to remember what it felt like before all of this - and you're a conduit to that safe place. It's just an act of will, and it might be the best thing you could ever do for both of you.

Never a perfect time, never a right time, ALWAYS a better time. Write that down, memorize it, and teach it to your friend - make her chant it and do the same. There's a lot of power in those words.

Above all else, I'm not wonderful - I just love you, that's all. I'll always take the time.
27th-Aug-2007 10:42 pm (UTC)
I love you right back.

THANK YOU for your advice.
27th-Aug-2007 10:39 pm (UTC)
It is also noteworthy that when I told her to get real about death, she agreed that with my own family history of cancer I'd get it too one of these days - but that both of us would end up dying not from cancer, but from mouthing off at the wrong asshole!

She's likely right, you know. Cancer won't kill me, but my stupid loud mouth VERY likely will. ;-)
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