Godspeed, Susan by Stella

I’ve been staring at this blank screen for days… ever since I got the news about Susan Niebur.  The words to pass the news, well, they just haven’t come…  I wish they didn’t need to.  

WhyMommy gave up her five year fight against Inflammatory Breast Cancer on Monday, February 6, 2012.  Her husband posted a touching final post on her personal blog, Toddler Planet.

It just doesn’t seem that mere words are sufficient to pay tribute to one such as Susan.  Well, maybe I feel that MY words aren’t sufficient.  After all, I only knew WhyMommy, the blogger, the cancer patient, the advocate.  The part of herself that she shared with the world at large.  I only met her once in 2007.  I am very sad to say I didn’t know her personally.  And yet, she changed my life.  

The words to memorialize her for the world just won’t come.  Others have been far more eloquent on that score than I could ever be.  The only words I have are those for Susan herself; words I couldn’t share with her while she was still here because mourning was not what I wanted between us at the end.


My very dearest, Susan – 

This is the second letter I’ve written to you.  It is no less heartfelt than the first.  Just over four years ago I was troubled to read that you thought you were dying.  I thought you might be giving up.  Heh.  How very, very wrong I was.  

You stood up from that low moment in time, brushed yourself off, and stepped out on faith.  You chose to live with cancer instead of die from it.  You defined cancer instead of letting it define you.  I read along with the rest of the blogosphere as you pushed at boundaries in the cancer world.  I marveled at your mad advocacy skillz.  I envied your bravery, your passion, your tireless drive.  I grabbed your coattails and held on… as Mothers With Cancer was born.  

I have been privileged to share in even that small portion of the changes you orchestrated in the breast cancer world, the eyes you opened, the women you educated, the lives you most likely saved.  You have been a mentor in all things:  advocacy, motherhood, loving, living.    In short, I am and have always been, awed by you.  

I will miss your voice, Susan.  I mourn the loss of your gentle guidance and insight.  I will never forget the lessons you taught me.  My world, the whole world, is better because of you.

Godspeed, my friend.


Here are a few pins from Susan.  They are pretty self explanatory.



13 Responses to Godspeed, Susan by Stella

  1. Becky says:

    I knew Susan BC, (before cancer) as a fellow beagle rescuer. Then came this monster, this IBC, this thing that ultimately took her from us. Susan was an amazing woman, who reached beyond herself and her circumstance to make a difference, touching and changing lives both locally and globally. We must carry on her work, even as we might wish that a heart so big had never stopped beating. Cancer. MUST. NOT. Win.

  2. Another lovely tribute to Susan. She really did reach so many people all over the world. She was one very special lady and I’m proud to have had her as my IBC sister for the last 4-1/2 years since my diagnosis with IBC.

  3. Jenster says:

    Beautiful words, Stella. Susan forever changed so many lives.

    “I grabbed your coattails and held on… as Mothers With Cancer was born.”

    that’s exactly how I feel.

    I don’t think I’ve ever had the privilege of knowing anybody – even if it was just through the blogosphere – who made as much of an impact on her world as Susan did.

    She will be (and is) sorely missed.

  4. Dawn says:

    I think you did pretty well.

  5. Stimey says:

    Love to you and to the whole community here at Mothers with Cancer. I was with her at BlogHer in 2008 just after she and you all started here. She passed out cards to the site to everyone, with the words, “I hope you never need this, but maybe someone you know will.” She helped a lot of people. She was wonderful.

  6. marilyn says:

    I didn’t know Susan personally, only thru the support site. What a beautiful smile she had, her spirit is clearly seen through that picture. As a victim of IBC myself I can relate to her battle. She did it well, courageously and inspiringly. She will be missed by those, like myself, who never knew her in person. I know she’s finally free of pain, I pray for her family to be encouraged by her life and will follow in her amazing footsteps. What a role model she was.

  7. Thank you Stella. You wrote a lovely truly heartfelt post.

  8. Curt Niebur (WhyDaddy) says:

    Thank you Stella for this post, which I know would have touched Susan. For some time Susan and I talked about the inadequacy of the “battle” metaphor that is often used for cancer. It is not a fight, it is a life, and Susan certainly lived with her cancer. She struggled with side effects and symptoms, with mortality and diagnoses, but her central theme was always “Live!” rather than “Fight!” After journeying by her side during her five years with cancer and sitting beside her bed for the past 3 weeks, I know she did not give up her fight against cancer. She lived it fully.

    • imstell says:

      Curt – Thank you for your words at such a difficult time. My thoughts are with you and the boys constantly and hope all are coping well. What a legacy Susan has left for the world…

  9. Amanda says:

    It is so gratifying to see the breadth of Susan’s reach.

  10. Amanda says:

    Whoops, wasn’t done. I remember in the early days of falling for Susan (really, there’s no other way to put it, I fell for her wit, her joy, her wisdom and her strength). Her handle “whymommy” always made me smile. I wrote about thinking of her much more in terms of how than why.

  11. Kathy U says:

    Stella, well said.

  12. hope all is well, i’m praying for you and all who have commenting above.

%d bloggers like this: