When I had breast cancer, I never would have believed a day would come when I’d say cancer brought me any rewards. But it has.
One of those was knowing Susan Niebur.
Since this is breast awareness month, I should maybe mention that neither of us had any.
Susan was a rare survivor who, like me, had lost both her breasts, didn’t have reconstruction and didn’t wear fakes.
When I first met her, that stunned me. It took me years to work up the courage to do that.
Not Susan. To quote Brene Brown, Susan was the essence of daring greatly. She put her authentic self out there. In fact, I originally heard about the red dress when Susan wore it.
Susan was a star—who studied the stars—a real rocket scientist. Really.
I always found it ironic that she was so associated with outer space; what I found so remarkable about Susan was her inner space.
She seemed to have infinite depth and an infinite amount—space for her two little boys, her husband, her friends, her work, and space for the many people she inspired via her blog after her diagnosis with inflammatory breast cancer at age 34.
Through her honest and eloquent words, she took everyone along on her journey, which sadly ended last February.
Susan and I were both on the American Cancer Society Blogger advistory council; and she was there the first time I visited New York City’s Hope Lodge.
It’s a magical space in itself, a haven in the heart of Manhattan–a place for cancer patients to stay during treatment, to relax, and find comfort and peace..
I’ve been back several times, doing mosaic workshops with cancer patients. On my last visit to Hope Lodge this past summer, Susan was there in spirit.
To honor and remember her, a group of her friends and other bloggers gathered to paint tiles to honor her memory .
It was during BlogHer; and the event was like Hope Lodge itself, a little island of peace in the middle of the craziness that is BlogHer. Some of the women who attended wrote about it– here and here and here and here.
After BlogHer, I took all their tiles, had them fired and I arranged them into a piece, which is now on the way to the American Cancer Society headquarters in Atlanta. .
Displaying this piece will be a wonderful way to honor Susan; yet for me and everyone who knew her, the real place –and space–for Susan Niebur–will always be in our hearts.