Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Remembering Lisa

In June 2008, my husband was diagnosed with a mediastinal germ cell tumor. Trying to process that and keep everyone in touch with what was happening, he started a blog called Maartensjourney. In Early July I received my monthly subscription to the British Glamour Magazine. That issue (or perhaps it was the August issue, everything back then was a blur) had a feature on a young British magazine editor who had been diagnosed with breast cancer at age 28 years, about 10 days after my husband. She also started a blog about her experience with cancer, Alrighttit.

I found myself sucked into to her story from the very beginning and spent the better part of a day reading all of her posts. By this time my husband was in his second round of BEP chemo- 6 days in the hospital with 3 chemo rounds a day, followed by 2 outpatient rounds. Going through it must have been difficult for him. I say must have, because I had no idea what he was going through. It's hard to explain to someone who isn't suffering through it, when all you want is to get through it and for it to be over. The last thing you want to do is describe the experience for your partner who is trying very hard to understand so she can help you through it. At least that is how I felt until I read Lisa's blog. She expressed, or rather, explained what the process, pain, emotions and feelings were like for someone going through chemo. She gave me the gift of insight into my husband's suffering. This allowed me to be, I hope a better, more understanding and helpful wife through what was a very emotional time.

It was armed with this greater understanding and gratefulness  that I sent Lisa an email through her blog, simply to say thank you for sharing her experience and telling her about my husband's blog. I didn't expect to get a response, but of course I did. She read Maarten's blog and became a regular reader, as did we for her blog. A correspondence of sorts began through emails and blog post comments. Lisa and my husband were following a similar timeline for treatment and, it turned out, other things. I was able to help her too. When I read on her blog about certain side affects she was having, I sent her the treatments we used for Maarten.

Lisa and Maarten finished their treatment around the same time- September 2008. Coincidentally, we also got kittens the same week; Her adorable Sgt Pepper and our princess Pebbels. Their hair started growing back at a similar rate and the both ended up having their first haircut in the same week too (November, December?). Unlike Maarten, Lisa had to deal with Radiation, which is where their timeline diverged, but through the blog and twitter and email, we kept in touch.

In September 2009 the lovely miss Lynch turned 30 and had a Super Sweet 30th birthday Party. She was kind enough to invite Maarten and myself, as well as my sister Connie and her Husband, Tim, who were visiting at the time. We made the hop over to London for a long weekend so we could meet Lisa and her husband Peter at their party.

It was a lovely party, which included an auction for a cancer charity. We were able to meet Lisa and Peter, as well as her parents and brother and lots of friends. It was a great evening. We joined them for brunch the next morning and had more time to chat. It was so great to see her in person after corresponding and tweeting with her for over a year.

Lisa was thoughtful and kind. My son was born the following year and besides sending us a lovely family sign to hang up with pride, at Christmas she sent us prezzies for our son. This T-shirt was a particular favorite:

Lisa was kind and thoughtful and had great taste!

We all continued on with the checkups and all clears and life events. Lisa wrote a book about her experience with The bullshit called 'The C-Word', a beautiful account not only of her illness, but of the strength of her support network, family and relationship with her husband Pete.

Fletcher really enjoyed the book. We celebrated again when Lisa's book was translated into Dutch

Fletcher found the book quite tasty!

We finally had the chance to meet up with Los Lynches in March 2011. We went to London to visit a friend who was coming for the US to celebrate the UK book launch of her latest book and arranged a lunch with the Lisa and Peter at the Queenshead and Artichoke. It was a beautiful sunny afternoon. The five of us (including my then almost 1 year old son, Fletcher) sat outside for a few hours enjoying excellent wine, food and even better company. It was a golden afternoon.

After lunch we hit nearby camden and an Antique Market. Peter and Lisa were game as we looked for  dinning room chairs (A long quest which was eventually resolved in France),

We really had a fabulous time hanging out with them.

In September we came back to London and planned to visit Lisa and Peter again, but unfortunately Lisa went back into the hospital around that time where she received her secondary diagnosis. Peter was kind enough to keep us informed with what was happening and when Lisa was up to it we exchanged emails and tweets and cards. Lisa was now terminal.

When it was determined that Lisa had months, not years left, I really wanted to get over to see her and Peter again.  Another friend we picked up on twitter, Mark, and I made a plan with Lisa to go and see her and Pete at the end of February 2012. I went to London for the weekend and visited friends and an amazing exhibit at the Tate Museum before meeting Lisa, Pete and Mark at The Riding house Cafe for Sunday Brunch.

Surrounded by Stuffed Squirrels, the four of us chatted and hung out like old friends, even though Mark had never met any of us in person and I had only met Peter and Lisa twice before. That was the magic of Lisa and Peter. They treated most people like old friends. Lisa was in a wheelchair by then and it didn't seem to restrict her in anyway. We spent a few very enjoyable hours together before heading off into the afternoon, but it was another memorable moment for me.

On March 11, Lisa passed away peacefully, surrounded by her husband Peter and family. Peter let us know personally, which meant a lot to me. I considered Lisa my friend and I will mourn her loss. She was someone who was diagnosed with a terrible illness at age 28, and didn't give up. She used the best weapon in her arsenal, her words, to express, vent, share and, in the inspire. She has helped countless numbers of cancer patients through her charity efforts for The Royal Marsden Society and the Trinity Hospice, as well as through her book. I won't be attending her funeral, as I am currently in New York with my family, a place she wanted to visit. Instead, on the day of her service, I will be sitting somewhere she wanted to go and raising a drink in her honor. It will be 9am here, kind of early for champagne, but for some reason I think she would get a kick out of being the reason for someone to have a drink so early in the day. Lisa, let your soul and spirit fly into the mystic.


GrĂ¡inne said...

Such a wonderful post! I never got to meet Lisa but loved following her. I'm so glad she was as lovely in real life. The photos are gorgeous too. Thank you for posting!

junewilliams7 said...

She was a lovely person and friend. She left the world a better place because of her sharing her thoughts and words, bringing understanding of the C-word and its effects on lives. wee mourn her loss while we celebrate her life.