Saturday, May 7, 2011

She Went out with Dignity and all her Hair - Good-bye Carcinista

Every so often, you find somebody that is totally sympatico with you. You are are instantly on the same page with this person, their thought process mirrors yours, they have the same interests and same way of looking at the world, and you become friends. In the day of the internet, this can happen without ever meeting the person, and so it was with me and Sarah.

I first became aware of Sarah Feather, the Carcinista, when she sent me an email right after Christmas in 2009:

"I’ve just discovered your blog and I think we might be related. I’m not sure I’m as funny as you are, but I’m kicking cancer’s ass and laughing about it, too. Ovarian, since 2006, two boys (5 and 7) and a shell-shocked husband also. Blogging and looking for like-minded wise-asses who don’t let their baldness get them down.

Anyway, love your blog, adding you to my blogroll, hope you enjoy the lack of shaving and blackheads that hair loss affords. I’ll be reading you!"

Her humor and personality were obvious, and I clicked on her blog and read a couple of entries.

I wrote her back.

Hey girlfriend!

I gave your blog a quick once over and love it. Will sit tomorrow and read, but husband is screaming at me to come watch TV with him. I already know you are worth a link - and staying in touch with.

More later!


Over the course of the next two years, we stayed in touch, via emails but mostly through the blog. It was an easy relationship. I called her my blogging sister and I really feel that in some way, we were sisters.

She has relatives who live in my part of the world and we'd hoped to meet up, but her last visit out was short and she wasn't up to it, and frankly, I probably wasn't at the time either for different reasons. I wish now that we had managed it though.

I thought highly of Sarah's writing skills. She mentioned wistfully once that she had never been published, which was amazing given her talent. I have an acquaintance who is editor of an large online network for women, and has been the founding editor of a national magazine. So, when Pinktober was on the horizon, with the pink flag-waving and perky pink joggers and pink items in the stores, I thought of Sarah and how she must feel during this month. I pitched an idea to my editor friend suggesting that Sarah write for their publication on how it feels to be an Ovarian Cancer survivor during the pink festivities. I didn't want Sarah to know I was involved, I was hoping this could be a secret, although it's definitely not the way things are done in the publishing world. My friend said she'd take it to her editorial board and get back to me. I really wanted to give Sarah the gift of a publishing credit.

When Pinktober was halfway over and nothing happened, I realized that it probably wasn't going to be a fit for their readership, who were probably largely rah-rah women who never had to experience cancer, except by putting on a pink hat that made their ponytail swing. So, I asked Sarah to write the piece for my blog.

She did:  Pinktober from a Teal Point of View

It is the 2nd most popular page on my blog. The first, of course, being the one about free goodies, which would make Sarah laugh.

You read the blogs of people like Sarah, knowing how it is going to end, but hoping, praying, that it won't. That the miracle will come for her, because anybody who has accepted her fate with such determination to make it easy on those around her, with the grace and dignity that she demonstrated - well, it just shouldn't happen to people like her.

My last contact with Sarah was about two weeks ago. I've long planned to start a 10 questions type feature on my blog and interview cancer survivors. When I read her latest post about ending treatment, I knew that she had to be my first interviewee. She, in my mind, is the definitive cancer patient, the one who handled it best. Naturally, Sarah, ever giving, agreed.

I didn't know at the time that she thought she only had a month to live. I figured she probably had at least three months, maybe six, so I knew I couldn't delay too long with the questions but didn't think I needed to rush. My shoulder is now nearly completely frozen and typing and mousing is hard and extremely painful, so I have to do writing in batches and on weekends. Today was the day I was planning to finish and send them.

Today, Sarah is gone.

But, Mr. Wonderful, her husband, is not. He has graciously offered to answer the questions for Sarah, even in the midst of his devastating grief. I know why they were such a great couple now, and why she named him what she did.

Sarah, thank you for light and laughter in such a dark place. Thank you for reaching out to me, and making me smile and want to steal your jokes for the past two years. You will always live on in spirit, in your boys and in the story you so very graciously shared.

Rest in Peace.

Sarah asked that, in lieu of gifts or flowers, donations be made in her honor to First Descents or Ovations for the Cure


  1. I just "discovered" Sarah recently, and was amazed at the calm and good humor with which she lived her final days. It makes me ashamed of the very different reaction I had to my own breast cancer diagnosis, which I did not endure with her grace. God bless Sarah and her family and may she rest in peace.

  2. Ann, I'm sorry to hear of the loss of your friend Sarah. She sounds like a wonderful person. Bill.

  3. I too just started reading Sarah's blog, perhaps a month ago only... she definitely is worth of all the adjectives you used describing her...

    I pray that her family finds peace and has a lot of support during this time of grief.

    What a tragic loss of a wonderful person...

  4. I've been following Sarah's blog for as long as I've been following yours, Ann and I will truly miss her sense of humor and grace with which she fought this terrible disease. Rest in peace, Sarah and I'm sorry, Ann, that you've lost a friend.

  5. How wonderful to have known such a person, if only for a short while. So sorry for your loss Ann.

  6. So glad you are honoring Sarah in this post. I think I met her through your blog, when she wrote the piece for Pinktober from a Teal Point of View. I followed her blog through email and on Facebook, and I sobbed for quite some time the morning Mr. Wonderful sent out the blog about Sarah's passing. It did seem like just a couple of weeks ago, she was telling stories of running around the medical complex looking for an oxygen tank...but she was still running around, nonetheless. How wonderful, as was blogged, that she spent her last days playing board games and watching movies with her children. Thank you to Sarah for all she shared with us, her readers, for her whit and humor in the grimmest of circumstances. What a great writing style! Prayers and love to all her friends and dear family.

  7. Ann, The joy you received from knowing Sarah comes through in this amazing post, as does the pain. It's another loss that came too soon. Thank you for the tribute and for being her friend.

  8. I'd recently discovered Sarah's blog, too, and was shocked to learn of her death. The blogging world has lost a funny, honest, snarky, and lovely voice, and you've lost a dear friend. Cancer brings us together in ways we never expected in our pre-diagnosis lives. My heart goes out to you and to her boys, husband, extended family & friends. RIP, Sarah.


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