An online buddy died today. Melinda – or Doc Melinda, as I knew her – was a 35-year-old medical oncologist living in Chicago who had inflammatory breast cancer. Her initial treatment – which was extremely aggressive – began in 2005 and seemed successful, but she recurred in May of this year and spiraled down very fast.
She posted on Oct. 12 that she felt hospice was right around the corner and her mind was “reeling” from the idea. She wasn’t ready to quit. She continued to be on the boards, being a support and encouragement to others, until a week ago today.
She was a very good support to me during a lot of my decision making. Because she was a medical oncologist and had extreme personal motivation in the study of breast cancer, she was an excellent resource person. She could be counted on for all of the answers.
She told me once she had consulted with my oncologist and said I was in very good hands – to trust everything he said. I believed her.
I’m very sad this disease has claimed another life of a young woman I know. She was a very kind and caring person, really loving and dedicated to fighting this disease. It is a total bitch that the very disease she studied is the one that stole her from the world.
There is a movement among the women who knew her to plant irises in her honor. It was my brave friend Wendy’s idea to plant “a field” of something for her, and Melinda requested irises. Here is what Wendy said, which I think is really beautiful:
I don’t understand nature, I just know that it “is.” How can a beautiful tulip or daffodil or fragrant lily ever imagine that one day they will go through a change that they dread, one they fear and want to retreat from? But their bulb has all their beauty and life still within, just waiting for the bright sunlight to release it. In the sunlight, they will blossom and become vibrant and whole and beautiful again. It never fails, Melinda, it is a promise. Melinda, I will plant any flower bulb you want, en masse. Every time I look at them, my heart will well with the remembrance of my beautiful friend and the pleasure she took from life and the pleasure she gave to life. No bulb transformation can change who you are, Melinda. This transformation does not change who you are, who you were meant to be, and who you will be.
So, as you do your fall bulb planting, can you put in a few irises in honor of Melinda – a very beautiful woman who should have had an amazing future. At the very least, when those flowers bloom year after year, people will have the pleasure of seeing them. They may not know it was because of Melinda, but that’s ok. Her influence will go on and on.