Friday, May 6, 2011

A breast cancer patient role model

Lillian and my mother had been friends from secretarial school.

My mother read the Boston Herald, Lillian the Boston Globe.

Lillian was a Democrat, my mother was a Republican.

Lillian campaigned for the ERA and pro choice. If my mother were alive today, I’m sure she’d be in Sarah Palin’s corner.

Yet for decades their friendship was unshakable.

When my mother was in the hospital with throat cancer, Lillian visited.
“Doo-row-theee, soon we will be at Stage Neck Inn,” I remember her telling my mother in her accented voice during a hospital visit. The inn was a favourite haunt for both of them both for the Maine coastline and the excellent food. The visit was not to be. My mother never went anywhere if it involved bridges or tunnels, limiting destinations. Lillian loved hopping on planes for new adventures.

Lillian travelled to Ireland in her seventies, met a man in a pub, who raved about her hair and asked her to bed. She declined not for moral reasons, but she didn’t want him to discover she was wearing a wig.

In her mid-eighties Lillian developed breast cancer. This was in the nineties when treatment was far less advanced than today. Lillian took it in stride talking about it like she would a bad and annoying cold. I met up with her on a visit to the States during her last year. I would not see this remarkable woman who seized life another time. However, I can try and emulate in honour to her.

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