Friday morning started with a text from a colleague that said “Eileen passed away this morning”
Eileen and I worked in the same building for years although she worked in a department I rarely had to coordinate with. Mostly we saw each other in staff meetings.
We were diagnosed with the same type of breast cancer at the same time and became friends as we supported we other on our medical journeys.
My cancer was found by a routine yearly mammogram - 3 tumors, 2 in the left breast, one in the right. Within a week I had 3 biopsies and, learned the type and grade of the tumors.
Eileen had felt a lump in her right breast months before and waited seek medical care.
I immediately had a bilateral mastectomy and a couple of nodes removed that showed that the cancer had not spread.
Eileen had one breast removed but her nodes showed that the cancer had already spread.
I recovered from the surgery in a few weeks and started a regimen of estrogen killing drugs that gave me wicked hot flashes.
Eileen had to start chemo, was sick as a dog, lost her hair, her energy and a couple of months of work. But she never quite bounced back from the chemo and quit working.
I had had lunch with her a short while ago and she was saying that she still was not feeling well and was going to call the doctor soon. Turns out that the cancer had spread to her bones. By the time she went it was too late.
Friday morning Eileen died. She was 55 years old.
Saturday morning my daughter Beaner and I went to New York City to see a Broadway show. In a couple of weeks I am will be hiking in Sedona with Peachie.
Sunday afternoon Eileen’s her children gathered to mourn her.
I can’t help but think of the different ways our lives went all because she was too frightened to get medical help when she knew something was wrong. Cancer is not like a cold. It will not go away with a good night’s sleep.
I urge everyone to keep up with their routine screenings and preventive wellness. And if you suspect something is not right, get medical attention immediately. Early detection and treatment does save lives and even in the 5 years since my cancer, they have made huge strides in treatment.
While my daughters and I are out making memories, Eileen’s are burying her.
Please don’t wait.