Ten years ago today, on February 13, 2001, Menya died, a victim of metastatic breast cancer.
I will always remember how in 1996, after chemotherapy, surgery and radiation, her first thought was to start a support group and web site, ibcsupport.org, so people could get better information than was available in books. And how in 2000, while she was in treatment for a tumour in her brain, she started bcmets.org because there wasn’t an online group at the time that made people with metastatic breast cancer feel welcome.
I will always remember how she fought with doctors, passionately arguing her case, and winning most of the time through sheer persistence – and how she inspired other people to do likewise.
And I will always remember her last months, blind, speechless, and unable to control most of her body; reduced to a wasted heap of flesh on a bed. All she wanted was to die, but the days of defeat stretched out forever without joy.
I have come to dread each October, with its regimented optimism, its tyranny of cheerfulness, and its pink ribbons that are forgotten by half way through November. I feel for the women I know who have metastatic breast cancer, most of whom will die from it and whose researchers receive pathetically small amounts of money from the major fundraising organizations.
I’m not sure if there is a point to this, except to commemorate the tenth anniversary of the death of a tragic heroine. Menya believed that you are not properly dead as long as people remember you, so if you want to do something nice today, please read some Menya anecdotes and remember her fondly.