She Was A Fighter

For the last seven+ years my Aunt faced a battle against breast cancer as strongly and as with as much determination as anyone I have ever known. A couple of weeks ago, she lost that battle. Today, friends and family will gather to celebrate her life. I hope you will celebrate with me and continue to pray for a cure for the evil beast that is cancer. 

There is a lot that can be said of my Aunt Susan. And considering her propensity to talk – a lot should be said about her. But if I can only share one thing about her, then let it be that she was a fighter. 

Breast Cancer Warrior
A cancer diagnosis is a crushing blow, and to be sure I know that my Aunt suffered with the weight of her diagnosis. But for seven plus years, I never once heard her utter a single word of defeat. Instead, with each passing diagnosis to her condition she responded with one of two reactions — rejoicing in each battle success or researching the hell out of finding the next course of treatment to reach her next success. 

While we wept for her shattered bones, her tumor riddled organs and her ailing condition – she battled like a true warrior. She didn’t know how to give up. And she didn’t.

I love that even in her last days she mirrored her father’s determination to travel. She wanted to visit her daughter — across the country — to see where she lives, works and plays more than anything. And she wasn’t going to let the scheduling of a necessary procedure stop her. She went. She rejoiced in going. And she spent her last days doing what she wanted to do — visiting her daughter. 

She didn’t let the cancer win. She took control and she won.

Face of Cancer
If you sat at a dinner table with my Aunt, as I did on many occasion, you would often forget about her health struggles. Because she refused to be defined by cancer, and she lived her life without letting cancer be her life. And everyone knows, she could talk about anything — so she did. She talked about everything — except the cancer. 

Even when taken to the hospital in Arizona, she talked not of her illness of how sick she had become. As much as she could, she kept that to herself. Instead she lamented the hospital’s failing architectural design. She did not approve. That was my Aunt. Always opinionated and always with something to say about that opinion. 

She saw things differently than most of us, and she never lost her artistic self. When commenting on photos I posted of my girls or pictures they sent to her, it wasn’t just a cute picture or a nice drawing. She analyzed the composition and the design elements — even those done by small children. And compliment from her about those elements was of the highest caliber. 

All of this isn’t just to tell you about how Aunt Susie faced her battle with cancer. It is also an illustration as to how she faced life. Through trying times she battled through with determination and resolve. And she always recognized the beauty around her. She took great delight in history, in art and in family. And she was a champion for those she loved. If you ever needed a warrior to battle at your side, she is the one you wanted. She would come to the table with research and willpower to stop any foe in its tracks. 

The past few years have been a continuing string of sickness, emergency room visits and health battles. And now there is silence. The unimaginable pain Aunt Susie suffered daily has finally ceased. While we are left to mourn the void in our lives, we must take comfort in knowing that her pain is no more. 

She is missed fiercely by all who knew her, but by none more than her sister and her daughter who are left to walk without her in their lives. And while I am saddened by her loss, I grieve most for the whole that cannot be filled for them. Aunt Susie lived and loved passionately and her kind heart left a lasting impression on all of those who knew her. Including my young girls who have never known a birthday or holiday not celebrated alongside their great aunt.

I pray that we all remember that first and foremost she was a fighter. She wouldn’t want to leave us with sadness in their hearts. She would instead want us to see the beauty around us and to keep fighting our battles with as much gusto as she would on our behalf. 


7 thoughts on “She Was A Fighter”


  2. I have not seen Suzie since I was a little girl growing up on Island Estates in Clearwater, FL. Suzie would come every summer and stay at her grandparents home and we would have so much fun together! I have the fondest of memories of our time together! We spent many a summer day swimming in the pool and the bay…..boating… collecting shells and fiddler crabs. We even cleaned up a small inter-coastal island of trash. Suzie’s family welcomed me as part of their family on so many sailing trips and July 4th parties. Suzie and I liked to catch lizards and make card mazes for them! I loved her and I loved having her as my childhood friend! I was so glad to find Suzie on Facebook and sad to hear of her illness and passing. I would have loved to see her again! I look forward to seeing her someday in heaven where we can catch up on those wonderful memories of our childhood! May God bless her with many mansions in heaven!

    • Janette – Thank you for sharing your wonderful memories of my Aunt. I saw this comment sitting next to her daughter at the beach in St. Pete. So I was able to share your stories with her. We can both picture her catching lizards and fiddler crabs at the beach. Thank you.

      • God is so good!! About 2 or 3 years ago I had a sudden feeling inside that I should try to find Susan….so I googled her and found her address. I wrote an old fashioned hand written letter to her telling her all about my wonderful memories of our childhood summers together! It was so exciting to get a phone call back from her and we both said we wanted to see each other again and she would try to stop by when she was in Clearwater……but sadly I did not know then that she was ill with cancer. I am grateful to my God that He gave me this motivation to make contact when I did and that I was able to share with her personally my memories of our time together. God is so good and I am so blessed to know Susan! Thank you for your reply!

  3. I reread your lovely tribute in honor of Susan’s birthday yesterday. Your portrayal is so loving and true. We were dog-walking buddies, and I miss her whenever I set off down Sequoia Trail. If I found her outside we would end up passing half and hour (or more!) in the street talking about anything from world affairs to horticulture. She had a wonderfully agile and inquiring mind, but I would just like to mention an additional characteristic — her generosity. Even when the chips were down she was always looking for ways to do things for others. I honor her memory today, and send renewed condolences to her family and especially her daughter Lizzie.

    • Thank you for your kind words Diane. She did so love to learn about and analyze the world around her. And she had the biggest heart. I passed your note along to mom and Lizzie, whom I am sure will both be equally touched by your thoughts.


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