Celebrating Wina

“Death leaves a heartache that no one can heal, love leaves a memory no one can steal.” – Irish saying

Yesterday, on a dreary, snowy morning, my dear friend, Maura, and her family celebrated  their sister, Wina’s, life with a simple Mass and funeral. This lovely Irish quote was included in Wina’s obituary.

Death leaves a heartache that no one can heal….. so true. This family’s loss is incredibly poignant. I know death is inevitable for all of us. But c’mon, shouldn’t we lose our sisters later when we’re in the false teeth & rocking chair years?

And shouldn’t lightning strike only once? In a cruel twist of fate, two of Maura’s sisters were diagnosed with head and neck cancer within months of each other last year. Fortunately, Tricia responded well to treatment and now has a good prognosis. Hurrah! But to have to undergo treatment while your sister is dying? That is unfair on so many levels. My heart  goes out to Tricia – not only is she mourning the loss of her sister, but she’ll likely always wonder why she won the cancer lottery and Wina didn’t. I know that’s how I feel about losing my sister, DeeDee.

Why are some people lucky and others not? And how is it that the outcomes of two cancers can make you sad and celebratory at the same time? I am so sad about Wina, and yet delighted for Tricia’s good fortune. Let’s pray that losing Wina marks the end of cancer for their family.

Maura and I are both from Irish families. Anyone who’s ever been to an Irish wake or studied the potato famine knows that we Irish aren’t big on sitting around and moping about our losses. For sure, I am so tired of the toll cancer takes on the lives of the people I love. But I have hope.

With luck, Tricia and I will have many, many more birthdays. And so will millions of people currently living with cancer. According to the Center for Disease Control’s  Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (3/11/11),* the number of cancer survivors in the United States climbed 19 percent in 2007 from 2001. Those are the most recently reported statistics. Hopefully, the numbers are even better in 2011.

We are living proof that research saves lives. I pray Congress makes cancer research a high priority during this budget cutting season.

I’m sorry Wina and DeeDee didn’t live long enough for a cure. As for the rest of us, live strong, live well, enjoy the day, and do what we can to work for a cure. To me, that’s the best way to honor those we’ve loved and lost.

*I know this is completely off-topic, but is it me or do you find  “Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report” a decidedly odd title? What were they thinking?!

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About A Broom of Her Own

Are you breathing just a little, and calling it a life? I swept my life clean of cancer, a cheating husband, and a brain-numbing job. Yikes.
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