Elizabeth Edwards – Cancer Free

December 8, 2010

By Lorri Steer

Mothers With Cancer blog writers were asked to contribute our thoughts for the Today Show blog. Here’s what I wrote:

“Elizabeth Edwards died Tuesday afternoon after a six-year battle with breast cancer. She was 61.”

As a 42 year old mother with advanced stage breast cancer, I want to know more. What stage was her breast cancer when it was found? What treatment did she do? How long was her remission? What was it like living with terminal disease? Who will mother her 10 year old son? When did she know she was dying and what did that feel like? And as selfish as it sounds, it shakes me as I wonder how my own cancer will play out over time.

I wonder if she breathed a sigh of relief each time her son reached another birthday like I do. When he blew his candles, did she secretly whisper to herself, “At least he’ll be 10 when I die.” Did she look for adults who lost their mothers to breast cancer at a young age and comfort herself with the thought that they turned out to be content adults with good lives? I do.

Those without such an intimate connection to breast cancer might look at her life as a tragic story: loosing a child, a troubled and broken marriage, cancer. Within the breast cancer community though, we nod our heads knowingly as we grieve her death. We live with breast cancer’s scars that all too often come from more than just mastectomies. Broken marriages don’t surprise us. We know there is no cosmic scale that will spare us unrelated heart breaks just because we have cancer. Breast cancer takes so much more than just our breasts. Mrs. Edwards death exhorts us with chills as the pretty pink ribbons fall to the ground – breast cancer kills and there is no cure.

Some Hollywood celebrities work the talk show circuit proclaiming themselves “cancer free” a year after treatment. Doctors and websites tell us that 5 years is the magic number for remission. But The Breastless Ones know otherwise – here in this life, there is no such thing as cancer free after cancer. Ever.

Mrs. Edwards,
may your spirit now sore to the place where there is no more pain, suffering or tears.
you are truly cancer free.
May you rest in peace.

Lorri Steer is a 42 year old mother of 3 living with advanced stage breast cancer.  She writes at the blog terribleandbeautiful.blogspot.com and is a contributing author to the Mothers With Cancer website at motherswithcancer.wordpress.com.  Currently, she has no sign of active disease.  Her youngest child is eight.