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Thought on the Passing of a Blood Cancer Advocate

I don’t know about other countries, but I know that in our country we’re big on fixing things.

A culture that loves quick fixes

We are not inclined to follow Paul’s McCartney’s advice and “let it be.” We want a quick fix, for everything from relationships to weight loss to our computers and phones to our health and the well-being of people we care about.

Obviously not everyone is like this, but I know that I am. A person has a problem and I come up with ways to fix it. It is hard to listen and to simply say, “I hear you,” to be empathetic without suggesting an action.

This is a lead-up to my initial reaction to the last post that the beautiful Cherie Rineker wrote on, Battle Fatigue: Deciding When to Stop Fighting.

What happens when something cannot be fixed?

She wrote that her options had run out and she “decided to make use of a law that is now available in nine states in the USA. Medical Aid in Dying is a way in which a terminal patient has control over the way his or her end of life happens.”

It is also known as “death with dignity.”

I thought, “Wait, wait, can’t anything else be done?” I thought of Tom Brokaw, who
was diagnosed in 2013 and is looking forward to his 80th birthday. But unlike Cherie, he wasn’t misdiagnosed, and he had other advantages.

“Part of the blessing of my life is that I could pick up the phone and call the Mayo Clinic, and they would make room and send a plane right now,” he told “99.9% of the people who get involved in this kind of a situation don’t have those opportunities … I’m keenly aware of that.”

Reflecting on the passing of a fellow advocate

The death of a young person after being “brushed off,” as Cherie said she initially was, is especially tragic. I had a beautiful friend who complained of back pain. She was in her late 40s, fit and healthy. Several doctors told her it was just a strain. When she finally got a diagnosis, it was Stage IV lung cancer. She was gone within two years. Her memorial service was packed with people who couldn’t stop crying.

Readers of Cherie’s last post said they wished a trial would come her way, that she would go into remission again. But in the spring, she had explained why it was difficult for her to get into a trial.

When I learned that, sadly, she had died on Oct. 23, it wasn’t hard for me to follow the bread crumbs to the videotaped goodbye message she put on her Facebook page. Her son, who took over her Facebook page after she died, said the day after that it had more than 11,000 views. The part of it that I was able to watch brought tears to my eyes.

Afterwards, I noticed these words underneath: “Watch together with friends or with a group.”

If you watch it, it’s better not to do it alone.

The voices of loved ones and advocates live on

There’s a tricky dynamic upon the death of someone with the same disease as yours or a related one. While it’s not about you, you might think, “That could be me.” But the bottom line is that judging from what her son wrote, her family is at peace, and she was at peace with her decision. Also, she touched so many, and her voice will live on in her writing.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.


  • Ann Harper moderator
    3 months ago

    @ronnigordon It is so difficult to just ‘let it be’ but so many times letting it be is the most important thing we can do, especially if that’s what is wanted. Nice post and a nice tribute.

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