I have been horribly, TERRIBLY remiss. I have mentioned cancer many times and discussed those about whom I care who have been affected by this disease. I have talked about those we have lost, I have mentioned those for whom we have abiding hope and through it all I have completely neglected one of the most amazing cancer survivors I know.
She is my Aunt Linda. And she not only an inspirational survivor, she is one of the finest people I have ever met:
My Aunt Linda & Uncle Ralph
December 21, 2001
I may not have all the details of her cancer survival story correct, but I’ll do my best. I believe it started about twenty years ago, soon after Linda married my Uncle Ralph. They are such a wonderful couple and we were delighted that they found each other. Not long after the wedding, Linda was diagnosed with uterine cancer. She had a hysterectomy and radiation treatments. I cannot imagine what that was like; such a young, nurturing person having the possibility of bearing children taken away so suddenly.
But I have NEVER heard her gripe or bemoan her situation. In fact, my negligence in mentioning her incredible spirit and her embodiment of a survivor is due, in part, to the fact that she DOES NOT complain (not that this excuses me). I have only heard her mention her cancer treatment empathetically in order to comfort others. If she is troubled by something it takes a backseat to helping everyone else around her.
Instead of despairing and giving up, Linda and Ralph have enriched the lives of so many children. They served as loving foster parents for a number of troubled children. And, after the typically long journey and difficulty with the “system,” they adopted a son. For years they have given him such love, support and so many wonderful opportunities (a fact that is somewhat lost on him at the moment, but I believe very strongly that he will acknowledge someday).
Moreover, Linda is a nurse. She has overseen, with gentleness and compassion, the care of family members. She also serves as, I have no doubt, an “angel of mercy” at the State Mental Hospital. I have always maintained that it takes a very special individual to be a nurse. PERIOD. I think to be a nurse to the mentally ill must take twice or thrice the amazing patience and beneficence. I admire her more than I can say.
Linda is a person worth emulating in so many ways. She is like sunshine; when she visits she always walks into the door immediately radiating a kind and warm spirit. She is always ready to give a comforting and reassuring hug, a loving prayer (she and Uncle Ralph have a deep and abiding spirituality that they share in a generous yet thoughtful way with everyone they meet), a nonjudgmental listening ear and completely selfless expressions of love for everyone and everything.
I want her to know how highly I regard her and how much I love her. She is an incredible example of a humble and noble individual. Thank you, Aunt Linda, for all your sweet-tempered, bighearted encouragement. It is a gift to have you in my life!