One of the very few good things about having breast cancer is the privilege of getting to know other women with breast cancer who inspire me. And one of the terrible things is how many of those women are no longer here.
This is about two of them—who never knew each other but who continue to inspire after their deaths —and I’m honored to be part of creating tributes that will remain as a reminder of the beauty of their lives.
When I was first diagnosed 18 years ago, living in a new community, I was desperate for friends. That’s how I first met Carol Hatton.
A few years later, Carol was diagnosed with breast cancer, too. Meanwhile I had discovered that painting ceramics brought me comfort and healing, helping me escape from the stress and fear of cancer. So when Carol had a recurrence, I brought her to the little shop where I painted. She loved it too; it was one of the few ways she was fully able to relax, and maybe to forget. We painted often, even in the last weeks before she died, 3 years ago this month.
As a tribute to all that Carol did to bring the latest diagnostic equipment to our local breast center, it was renamed for her in a ceremony last fall.
I thought how perfect it would be if the people in Carol’s life could do something she loved, and create a tribute that would be in the building that bears her name. So on the day of the dedication, everyone painted.
Carol’s family and friends all painted tiles, there’s even a handprint from her granddaughter Hazel who was born just before Carol died.
The tiles were assembled into a planter which stands in the lobby of the Carol Hatton Breast Center, a permanent piece of love made by people who loved her.
I knew Susan Niebur through our participation on the American Cancer Society Blogger Advisory Council. Susan lived in Washington, DC, and was only 39 when she died a few months ago. Still she had accomplished so much in her life—as a rocket scientist, mom, wife, friend and inspiration to people all over the world who followed her breast cancer journey on her blog.
I met Susan for the first time at the first BlogHer conference I attended. She was admired and adored by the BlogHer community; so it seems appropriate that another BlogHer conference provides an opportunity to honor her. This week during BlogHer in New York, thanks to the American Cancer Society, a group of Susan’s friends will gather at the Hope Lodge to paint individual tiles which I’ll assemble afterwards into a piece in her memory.
Not that either of these remarkable women would ever be forgotten.