Mentor, best friend, and the sister God placed in my life shortly after I married her younger brother more than 52 years ago, died in December of 1988 after a long battle with Stage IV Breast Cancer. During her four-year fight to survive, I never heard one complaint. With confidence, I can say every one who watched her go through the repetitive rounds of chemotherapy; radiation treatments and hospitalizations will agree that she exemplified all the following “Pink Warrior Symbols.”
- Power and Courage
- Plants for Life, Growth and Survival
- A Feather for Kinship
- A Dove for Peace in the Battle
- War Paint, Showing Readiness to Battle
- A Tree for Love, Standing Tall
- A Heart, for Standing Strong
- Angel Wings, to Honor Those Who Have Died
Four years my senior, she was the big sister I dreamed of growing up as an only child. What a Blessing!!! I was gifted with the opportunity to spend quality time with this very, very special person during the last days of her life
You see, in August of 1988, my husband invited her to live with us in Madison, Wisconsin. She had reached a point where she needed around-the-clock care. The two of us cared for her evenings and weekends. Her daughter, brother, sister, cousin, nieces, nephews, and aunt provided care on weekdays. Fortunately, all of them lived in Madison and were available during the day due to retirement, student status, evening work, or paid time off usage. Our family knew she would prefer a home setting rather than a sterile hospital room. Although the spare bedroom, in order to accommodate her needs, was set up much like a hospital room with a hospital bed, over-the-bed table, and oxygen tank. Yet, it was a lived-in home environment. Family members were providing the needed care.
The best reasons for her move to Madison. It placed her in the same city as her youngest child, a daughter, who graduated from high school in June of 1988. She was scheduled to start classes at the University of Wisconsin-Madison for the Fall 1988 semester. Though away from her own home, she was able to maintain a close connection with her husband and adult son. Madison is only a three-hour drive from Chicago.
On November 25, 1988, she celebrated her 50th Birthday in our spare bedroom. Less than three weeks later, she quietly passed away in this small spare bedroom surrounded by members of her nuclear, extended family and close friends.
This post is dedicated to my sister-in-law, Shirley Mae Thomas Conda, a Breast Cancer Warrior, who bravely fought the fight, but lost the battle.
Through the many seasons of my life, I have faced my share of trials and tribulations. However, nothing challenged me more than the diagnosis of Breast Cancer in February 2008.
Thank you Shirley. You were still my “role model, some 20 years later” as I went through a lumpectomy, chemotherapy and radiation treatment. Being in your presence as you fought Breast Cancer, continues to give me the courage to fight this condition for which there is still no known cure.
On this 5th Anniversary as A Breast Cancer Survivor, I am:
- Thankful for my husband, children, grandchildren, extended family members, PMTC family, and friends who went beyond anyone’s expectations in sharing their love and support as I went through the early, and sometimes scary times, of my cancer treatments.
- Grateful to Sisters4Cure, Milwaukee Affiliate, for their on-going support, information and education to increase my awareness of Breast Cancer.
Finally, I give praise and honor to God. Thanking Him for bringing me this far.