by Heather Currie, 2009 Event Attendee
My mother passed away from colon cancer in January 2009, and my father invited family and friends to share a table at Cancer Services Tribute Dinner 2009 to celebrate her life. The tribute gift was a picture frame, so we searched through our cameras and in our photo albums for a suitable picture of my mother. Going through the pictures wasn’t easy, partly because it had been less than a year since she passed, making it hard to see so many photos of good times, knowing that there would be no new additions to our collections. And partly it was hard because every individual, my mother included, has so many facets that no single photo captures them completely. We found photos of her at weddings, holidays, and dressed up for previous Cancer Services dinners where her own parents had been honored for their battles with cancer. We eventually chose a candid photo of her from our last family vacation in 2007 because it showed her in her element – relaxing in a National Park, enjoying the peacefulness of sunshine, trees and family close at hand. It showed her not just living with cancer, but thriving with it. The picture and frame now sit on the piano where my mother often played. It is joined by bookends and a vase – three handsome tributes, from Cancer Services dinners, to amazing members of our family.
My mother’s battle with cancer is a story of living, surviving, and thriving, as many of them are. Despite all that she lost through cancer, she survived so much of it during her 11-year battle. It was her determination to thrive that has left an indelible mark on us and continues to inspire those who knew her. We survive her, but those who loved her have felt the loss deeply, but it won’t stop us from thriving. At the Cancer Services dinner, we were surrounded by people who knew well what it means to live, survive and thrive. Despite all of the loss, there was not a feeling of sadness to the event. There were a few tears (living, surviving and thriving isn’t easy, after all); the event, however, was a happy occasion, with much to celebrate. Those who have survived their battles with cancer, and those of us who have survived family members lost to cancer, have much to be optimistic about. The dinner gave us an environment in which to not only honor those who fight cancer, but to thrive because of them.