Ever since I was a young girl, I believed I could move mountains that would change the world.
My long-time friend, Cathy, died back in 2008 from a rare, aggressive form of breast cancer. I still remember my emotional conversation with her on my last visit to see her in Sacramento, California. Sitting in my rental car on a dark, dead-end street late at night, I turned to her in the passenger seat and said, “I know why you are refusing any palliative care that might help you live longer. You still love your ex-husband and are just giving up on life.”
Between sobs, I screamed, “I am mad at you. I would have taken out a loan to pay for the medical care it took to keep you with us.”
In all the years we had known each other, I had never even whispered an unkind word to her. Our close friendship was just one thing that was always solid and right. Leaning her frail, gauntly body over, Cathy gently wiped the tears from my eyes and answered, “Oh, Annie Jo, I love you. Nobody has ever said that to me.”
Less than six weeks later, my dear friend passed away from such a brutal disease. At her funeral, I stood silently staring at this huge, beautiful arrangement of flowers sitting on display at the cemetery with a little card that read, “Love from the father of your three children,” signed by her ex-husband. A man that I believe she loved to the ends of this earth but lost him due to divorce.
For a long time, I tried to convince myself her death didn’t hurt anymore. The truth is it doesn’t hurt as much. But recently, when I was talking with a new, good friend, it brought back again all those helpless, unresolved feelings for those I love and care about. My friend explained to me that her husband had been unemployed since 2008. In over four years, she hasn’t even been able get a mammogram because of not having health insurance.
My friend, Cathy, was in-between jobs when she developed breast cancer. She had worked in Radiology for years. From her symptoms, she had an inkling that the prognosis wasn’t good.
Could Cathy’s life have been saved if she would have had health insurance early on to pay for the expensive mammograms? I believe that if she had gone in for her yearly mammogram, it would have helped detect her cancer much sooner before it quickly spread like a raging forest fire to the final stages that took her life prematurely.
Ever since I was a young girl, I believed I could move mountains that would change the world. If one says, “No, that’s not possible,” it makes me just that much more determined to persevere and succeed at reaching my selfless goals.
We all have poignant stories of losing loved ones, but I want to make sure that every woman has the means to get mammograms. It would make some sense out of the loss of my friend that I loved with all my heart and never imagined she would not be a significant part of my life always.
In honor of my late friend’s day of her birth (August 30th), I found something we can all do that doesn’t cost anything. If you go to the Breast Cancer Site (click on the graphic below) and click on Fund Mammograms, Research & Care, sponsors will pay for mammograms. Please feel free to share my post in hopes that we can make a difference. Thanks for the great suggestion Connie Arnold.