Vox Populi: Libby, We’ll Be Missing You.
One year ago today, you left us after an extended battle with ovarian cancer. You are missed as a wife, a daughter, a sister, an aunt and a cousin. You were, and continue to be, a very special family member to your loved ones who remain behind. You battled this insidious disease with courage but lost that battle in the prime of your life at age 26.
I wonder why your life was cut short by this disease.
I wonder why an effective screening test has not been discovered by a country that set a lofty goal of landing a man on the moon and accomplished that goal within a decade.
I wonder why there are so many pink ribbons yet so few teal ribbons.
I wonder how the mothers of a major Hollywood celebrity (Angelina Jolie) and the President of the U.S. (Barack Obama) could die from ovarian cancer, yet U.S. women remain generally unaware of the early warning signs and symptoms of the disease.
I have faith that you are in a much better place now. A place that only knows pure love. A place that knows no pain or suffering. A place where there are logical answers to my questions above.
I remember when you rode in my new red convertible sports car at the age of 11 with your blond hair blowing behind you in the wind. At that moment, your life seemed limitless.
I remember when, as a young adult, you helped others who could not help themselves. You chose generosity and kindness while many of your peers sought money and power.
I remember your positive attitude after initial diagnosis, despite the fact that you had every reason to blame life and others for your plight.
I remember your dry sense of humor after a doctor attempted to soften the blow of a disease recurrence diagnosis by telling you that even he could step out into the street tomorrow and get hit by a bus. You suggested that the doctor needed serious help with his “people skills,” but joked that his insensitive statement should appear on an ovarian cancer fundraising T-shirt.
I remember how you continued to seek out medical solutions to your disease in the face of dire odds and statistics.
I remember “hearing” your smile on the telephone, regardless of our 3,000 mile separation.
I will always remember your example of love, faith, hope, courage, persistence, and ultimately, acceptance.
On July 28, 2008, I wrote about two songs that immediately came to mind after I heard about your passing. One year later, two songs again come to mind based upon your inspiration and memory.
The first song is I’ll Be Missing You.
I’ll Be Missing You was written by Terry “Sauce Money” Carroll and performed by Sean “Diddy” Combs (then Puff Daddy), Faith Evans and 112. Terry Carroll received a 1997 Grammy Award for the song that is based in part upon the melody of the 1983 Grammy Award-Winning song Every Breath You Take (written by Sting and performed by The Police). I’ll Be Missing You was inspired by the memory of Combs’ fellow Bad Boy Records artist Christopher Wallace (aka Notorious B.I.G. ) who died in March 1997. The song lyrics express what our family is feeling today when we think of you:
… Life ain’t always what it seem to be
Words can’t express what you mean to me
Even though you’re gone, we still a team
Through your family, I’ll fulfill your dream
In the future, can’t wait to see
If you open up the gates for me
The night they took my friend
Try to black it out but it plays again
When it’s real feelings’ hard to conceal
Can’t imagine all the pain I feel
Give anything to hear half your breath
I know you still livin’ your life after death
… It’s kinda hard with you not around
Know you in heaven smilin down
Watchin us while we pray for you
Every day we pray for you
Til the day we meet again
In my heart is where I’ll keep you friend
Memories give me the strength I need to proceed
Strength I need to believe …
I still can’t believe you’re gone
Give anything to hear half your breath
I know you still living you’re life, after death …
The second song is Eva Cassidy’s cover of Over The Rainbow, which is the Academy Award-Winning song written by Harold Arlen and E.Y. Harburg, and originally sung by Judy Garland, in the 1939 Academy Award-Nominated “Best Picture” film Wizard of Oz.
Eva Cassidy, like you, died in the prime of her life from cancer. Eva was 33 years old when she died in 1996 from melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer. During her life, she created and sung beautiful music in relative obscurity. After her death, millions of worldwide fans “discovered” her music and today celebrate her life. The lyrics of this classic ballad celebrate our belief that you are now at peace in a beautiful place “somewhere over the rainbow,” along with the hope that we will one day be reunited with you:
Somewhere over the rainbow
Way up high
There’s a land that I heard of
Once in a lullaby
Some day I’ll wish upon a star
And wake up where the clouds are far behind me
Where troubles melt like lemondrops
Away above the chimney tops
That’s where you’ll find me
Somewhere over the rainbow
Birds fly over the rainbow
Why then, oh why can’t I?
In Mitch Albom’s bestselling memoir Tuesdays With Morrie, Morrie Schwartz, who was suffering from terminal Lou Gehrig’s Disease, taught Albom (his former college student) an important lesson about how death reminds us to live fully each day with love. “As long as we can love each other, and remember the feeling of love we had, we can die without ever really going away,” he told Albom one Tuesday. “All the love you created is still there. All the memories are still there. You live on in the hearts of everyone you have touched and nurtured while you were here. Death ends a life, not a relationship.”
Libby, your memory, love, and inspiration live on in our hearts and minds. Your physical life ended one year ago, but your relationship with us is eternal. We will forever love you.
I am requesting family members and readers to honor Libby by contributing at least $1.00 to ovarian cancer research via the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund (and PayPal). To make a contribution, click on Kelly Ripa’s picture located on the left homepage sidebar, or simply CLICK HERE.
- Ovarian cancer causes more deaths than any other cancer of the female reproductive system.
- In 2009, the American Cancer Society (ACS) estimates that there will be approximately 21,550 new ovarian cancer cases diagnosed in the U.S. ACS estimates that 14,600 U.S. women will die from the disease, or about 40 women per day.
- Ovarian cancer is not a “silent” disease; it is a “subtle” disease. Recent studies indicate that some women may experience persistent, nonspecific symptoms, such as (i) bloating, (ii) pelvic or abdominal pain, (iii) difficulty eating or feeling full quickly, or (iv) urinary urgency or frequency. Women who experience such symptoms daily for more than a few weeks should seek prompt medical evaluation. To learn more about the warning signs and symptoms of ovarian cancer, CLICK HERE.
- Ovarian cancer can afflict adolescent, young adult, and mature women, although the risk of disease increases with age and peaks in the late 70s. Pregnancy and the long-term use of oral contraceptives reduce the risk of developing ovarian cancer.
- Women who have had breast cancer, or who have a family history of breast cancer or ovarian cancer may have increased risk. Inherited mutations in BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes increase risk. Another genetic syndrome, hereditary nonpolyposis colon cancer (or Lynch Syndrome), has also been associated with endometrial and ovarian cancer.
- There is no reliable screening test for the detection of early stage ovarian cancer. Pelvic examination only occasionally detects ovarian cancer, generally when the disease is advanced. A Pap smear cannot detect ovarian cancer. However, the combination of a thorough pelvic exam, transvaginal ultrasound, and a blood test for the tumor marker CA125 may be offered to women who are at high risk of ovarian cancer and to women who have persistent, unexplained symptoms like those listed above.
- If diagnosed at the localized stage, the 5-year ovarian cancer survival rate is 92%; however, only about 19% of all cases are detected at this stage, usually fortuitously during another medical procedure.
- For women with regional and distant metastatic disease, the 5-year ovarian cancer survival rates are 71% and 30%, respectively. The 10-year relative survival rate for all stages combined is 38%.
*”Vox Populi,” a Latin phrase that means “voice of the people,” is a term often used in broadcast journalism to describe an interview of a “man on the street.”
In the spirit of Vox Populi, Libby’s H*O*P*E*™ searches online for original pieces of writing created by ovarian cancer survivors, survivors’ family members, cancer advocates, journalists, and health care professionals, which address one or more aspects of ovarian cancer within the context of daily life. The written pieces that we discover run the gamut; sometimes poignant, sometimes educational, sometimes touching, sometimes comedic, but always honest. The written piece may be an essay, editorial, poem, letter, or story about a loved one. In all cases, we have received permission from the writer to publish his or her written piece as a Libby’s H*O*P*E*™ Vox Populi weblog post.
It is our hope that the monthly Vox Populi feature will allow readers to obtain, in some small way, a better understanding of how ovarian cancer impacts the life of a woman diagnosed with the disease and her family. We invite all readers to submit, or bring to our attention, original written pieces suitable for publication as monthly Vox Populi features.