“Smile, Open Your Eyes, Love and Go On.”

Today marks the 2nd anniversary of Libby’s death from ovarian cancer at the age of 26. Although the family healing process continues, we celebrate Libby’s life formally on this day to honor her memory, and remind ourselves that life is precious and should not be taken for granted.

Today marks the 2nd anniversary of Libby’s death from ovarian cancer at the age of 26. Although the family healing process continues, we celebrate Libby’s life formally on this day to honor her memory, and remind ourselves that life is precious and should not be taken for granted.  This day also reminds us that there is a considerable amount of work yet to be done in raising ovarian cancer awareness and finding a reliable screening test, and ultimately a cure, for this unforgiving disease.

As reported by the American Cancer Society earlier this month, the estimated number of newly diagnosed ovarian cancer cases and related deaths in the U.S. during 2010 will be 21,880 and 13,850, respectively.  Simply stated, a U.S. woman will die every 38 minutes from ovarian cancer in 2010. Cancer Research U.K. also reported this month that the 10-year ovarian cancer survival rate nearly doubled since the 1970s. Unfortunately, this much heralded statistical “doubling” represents an increase of the long-term ovarian cancer survival rate from 18% to only 35%. Ovarian cancer still remains the most lethal gynecologic cancer in women. I know that if Libby were alive today, she would say, “we must do better.”

Although the vast majority of visitors to this website never knew Libby, it is because of her that Libby’s H*O*P*E*™ was created and shared with the general public. What began as a family website used to exchange ovarian cancer and cancer-related information within the family during Libby’s illness, has rapidly become a global information resource for ovarian cancer survivors and their families after her death. It is my greatest hope that Libby would be proud of the following accomplishments achieved over the past two years, which are dedicated to her memory:

  • Created Libby’s H*O*P*E*™ mission statement to be carried out by a future nonprofit, tax-exempt organization.
  • Generated approximately 145,000 website visitors, from 60 countries around the world.
  • Generated 5% to 10% of daily website visitors from major U.S. and international cancer centers and elite academic institutions actively engaged in cancer research.
  • Established a website library containing over 500 videos relating to ovarian cancer and cancer-related topics.
  • Responded to approximately 700 ovarian cancer survivor (and family) general informational inquiries, which were answered within 96 hours of website posting or email receipt.
  • Created Vox Populi website article features which provide the general public with a better understanding of how ovarian cancer impacts the daily life of a woman diagnosed with the disease and her family. These stories have been well-received by our readers as a source of inspiration and hope.
  • Highlighted in the Eyes on Advocacy section of the 2010 University of Washington Tumor Vaccine Group (UWTVG) quarterly (Winter) newsletter entitled, TVG Focus. The UWTVG is headed by Mary L. (Nora) Disis, M.D., a Professor of Medicine and Adjunct Professor of Pathology and Obstetrics & Gynecology at the University of Washington, and a Member of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. Dr. Disis is a world-renowned cancer immunologist.
  • Established a new working relationship with Women’s Oncology Research & Dialogue (WORD), a non-profit, tax-exempt organization dedicated to raising gynecological cancer awareness.  To promote this new relationship, WORD recently shot a video of Paul Cacciatore, the Libby’s H*O*P*E* founder.  In the video, Paul addresses the genesis of the website, the Libby’s H*O*P*E* mission statement, and why it is important for all women to educate themselves about the early warning signs of ovarian cancer.  WORD will be launching a new website before the end of 2010, and it is anticipated that this video will appear on both the WORD and Libby’s H*O*P*E* websites at that time.

“Remember Me”

Based upon instructions from Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II (“Her Majesty”), a poem entitled, She Is Gone, was recited at the Queen Mother’s funeral, which was held in Westminster Abbey on April 9, 2002. The poem recitation sparked a glut of media interest because of its simple, upbeat nature – and mystery author, who was credited in the service program as “Anon” [i.e., Anonymous].  Apparently, Her Majesty found the poem while leafing through old memorial service books and she chose it to be read at her mother’s funeral, where it struck a chord with millions of mourners.

After the conclusion of the Queen Mother’s funeral, the BBC, The Times, and other U.K. media outlets took great effort to identify the author, with attributions going to, among others, Immanuel Kant and Joyce Grenfell. Eventually, it was discovered that the true author was Mr. David Harkins, who wrote the poem in 1981 while working at a bakery.  Mr. Harkins, who now works as an artist selling paintings over the Internet, said he “couldn’t believe his eyes” when he saw his poetry published in several newspapers after the funeral.

Quite shocked by all of the media attention, David Harkins sent the original manuscript of the poem to Prince Charles (of Wales), and St. James’s Palace replied thanking Mr. Harkins for explaining its origin. As it turned out, the poem was originally written by David Harkins in homage to an unrequited love. Mr. Harkins recalled: “I was 23 when I first met Anne Lloyd, my inspiration for the poem I called Remember Me.”  The reply received by David Harkins from the Prince of Wales’s office stated: “I have no doubt that it [Remember Me] will be reproduced on many occasions over the years to come. The Prince of Wales has asked me to send you his very best wishes.”

I chose to include Remember Me as part of our tribute to Libby for two reasons.  First, the poem is instructive as to how Libby would want all of us to continue on with our lives, energized by our loving memories of her.  Second, Libby would no doubt find great joy and humor in the fact that a talented baker from a small U.K. town became famous worldwide for his literary prowess rather than his pastries. The full text of Remember Me is provided below.

Remember Me

You can shed tears that she is gone

Or you can smile because she has lived

You can close your eyes and pray that she will come back

Or you can open your eyes and see all that she has left

Your heart can be empty because you can’t see her

Or you can be full of the love that you shared

You can turn your back on tomorrow and live yesterday

Or you can be happy for tomorrow because of yesterday

You can remember her and only that she is gone

Or you can cherish her memory and let it live on

You can cry and close your mind, be empty and turn your back

Or you can do what she would want: smile, open your eyes, love and go on.

— written by David Harkins, Silloth, Cumbria, U.K. (1981)

Did You Ever Hear An Angel Sing?

The inspirational story of Rhema Marvanne provides further proof that it is possible to “smile, open your eyes, love and go on,” after the death of a family member from ovarian cancer. It is difficult to believe that the life lesson highlighted by this touching story is provided to us through the example of a 7-year old child, albeit it a very talented one.

Rhema Marvanne was born on September 15, 2002.  Rhema lives with her father Teton Voraritskul, and a family pet dog named, “Mojo.” According to her father, Rhema began singing at the same time she began talking.

Rhema’s mother, Wendi Marvanne Voraritskul, loved Rhema with all of her heart. Wendi was diagnosed with ovarian cancer when Rhema was just 3 years old. Succumbing to the disease three years later, Wendi Marvanne died at the age of 36 on November 8, 2008.  According to Teton Voraritskul, most of Rhema’s memories with her mom were pleasant ones, but revolved around surgery, multiple chemotherapy treatments, sickness and struggle. Wendi was a strong believer in God and never complained about or questioned God during her illness. Teton explains that Wendi always encouraged those around her, even in the midst of her cancer battle. During Wendi’s final months, Rhema and Teton took care of her. Rhema spent almost every hour with her mother. When asked what her greatest accomplishment was prior to her death, Wendi simply replied, “Rhema.” A YouTube video featuring Wendi and her original songs is provided below. You can learn more about Wendi Marvanne’s life and music at www.jchouseofmercy.org.

It was less than a year ago that Rhema recorded her first song, Amazing Grace, and quickly became an Internet singing sensation. She obtains great inspiration from her mother, Wendi.  It is Rhema’s greatest hope to make her mother proud, both as a singer and as a “servant of God,” which is why she also performs for church congregations, non-profit organizations, charities, hospitals and special events.

Already a supremely talented singer, recording artist, and actor, Rhema counts the following among her recent accomplishments:

  • Acted in 1st featured film entitled Machine Gun Preacher, a Lionsgate production set to release in Fall 2011. The movie Machine Gun Preacher is based upon the true story of Sam Childers (portrayed by well-known actor Gerard Butler), a drug-dealing biker who finds religion and dedicates his life to helping Sudanese children escape the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) in Africa. Childers founded the Angels of East Africa, a children’s village located in southern Sudan, for the children he saves from the LRA.

During her free time Rhema enjoys playing with her friends and dolls, and loves to watch movies. The best description of Rhema is provided by her father:

…The best way to describe Rhema is that she has a beautiful heart and soul. She is sweet, kind, caring and most importantly pure in heart. Most people who have dealt with or are currently dealing with cancer, disease, challenges, etc…..see hope and inspiration in Rhema. The little girl who should have been scared or harmed by seeing her mother suffer and gone, is strong and perfect. I see Rhema as a cancer survivor. She gives me hope for goodness in mankind. God gave her a beautiful heart and the voice of an angel. Most people that hear her sing can not deny that God does speak through a child. Her voice touches people’s hearts.

Whenever we remember Libby, or any woman who lost her battle to ovarian cancer, we should follow Rhema’s example and heed the call to action set forth in the last line of the poem Remember Me, ” … smile, open your eyes, love and go on.”

Libby, we will always love you and keep your memory alive in our hearts and minds.

How Can You Help?

To support Libby’s H*O*P*E*™, you can make a donation ($10 minimum) through our Facebook Cause page.  All donations made to the Libby’s H*O*P*E*™ Facebook cause are designated for the benefit of the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund (OCRF). OCRF is one of the largest U.S. private, non-profit organizations dedicated to finding an early detection test, and ultimately a cure, for ovarian cancer.

If you are not a Facebook member, you can still make a donation through the Libby’s H*O*P*E*™ Facebook donation page (no membership or registration required).

If you are unable to donate, you can nevertheless support OCRF without any out-of-pocket cost by clicking on our “SocialVibe” widget that appears on the website homepage right sidebar, or by using our designated SocialVibe website. For each reader that clicks on the SocialVibe widget (or goes to our designated SocialVibe website), and watches the video presented and/or answers the question(s) listed, our current SocialVibe sponsor will donate money to OCRF on your behalf for ovarian cancer research. It’s fast & it’s free!

Special Thanks:

We would like to extend special thanks to Teton Voraritskul for allowing us to feature Rhema’s story and music videos, as well as the video of Wendi’s life.  To learn more about Rhema Marvanne and her music, go to www.RhemaMarvanne.com. Rhema’s songs are sold on iTunes®, Amazon.com, and RhemaMarvanne.com.

Sources:

  • Jemal A., Siegel R., Xu J. et. al. Cancer Statistics, 2010.  CA Cancer J Clin. 2010 Jul 7. [Epub ahead of print] [PMID: 20610543].
  • Remember Me, written by David Harkins, Silloth, Cumbria, U.K., PoeticExpressions.co.uk.

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*“Vox Populi,” a Latin phrase that means “voice of the people,” is a term often used in broadcast journalism to describe an interview of the “man on the street.”

In the spirit of Vox Populi, Libby’s H*O*P*E*™ searches online for original writings and visual media 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 and visual media features that we discover run the gamut; sometimes poignant, sometimes educational, sometimes touching, sometimes comedic, but always honest. The Vox Populi feature may take the form of an essay, editorial, poem, letter, story, song or video picture montage.

It is our hope that the Vox Populi feature will allow our 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 writings and visual media suitable for publication as Vox Populi features.

Vox Populi:* How Do Your Define “Tragedy?”

How do you define tragedy? … The loss of Archibald “Moonlight” Graham and Sue-Louise Newmann is certainly tragic, however, their lives exemplify hope and inspiration.

Alabama Crimson Tide 37 — Texas Longhorns 21.  That was the final score of the Citi BCS National Championship football game, which was played in the Rose Bowl on January 7, 2010.  The Texas team experienced a major setback in that game when quarterback Colt McCoy, a 2008 Heisman Trophy Finalist, was injured during the first quarter of the game. More specifically, the Texas quarterback was injured on the fifth play of the game. At that moment, all football fans understood the significance of the injury in light of the following records held by Colt McCoy at game’s start: highest NCAA single season passing completion percentage (77.6%); highest NCAA career passing completion percentage (70.9%); and most NCAA football game wins by a starting quarterback (44).

I watched that BCS National Championship game with a friend.  Immediately after Marcell Dareus –an Alabama defensive lineman — hit McCoy, and it was clear that the Texas starting quarterback would not return to the game due to a shoulder injury, my friend exclaimed: “That’s a tragedy!” He elaborated upon his initial comment by describing how important McCoy was to the Texas football team and how Texas’ chance for victory walked off the field along with its injured quarterback. In total dismay, my friend went on to described how important this game was to Colt McCoy and his future National Football League career and related compensation package.

Shortly after football game ended in a Texas defeat, I began to think about my friend’s comment.  It seemed fair in the heat of a sporting moment.  A few hours later, it seems outright ridiculous.  I began to think about what most people consider “a tragedy” in life, and what, if any, example(s) could be used to appropriately define this term in the context of an individual’s life. Two individuals came to mind as a way to place a human face on the proper meaning of the term:  Dr. Archibald “Moonlight” Graham and Sue-Louise Newmann.

Dr. Archibald “Moonlight” Graham

Archibald “Moonlight” Graham was an American professional baseball player who appeared as a right fielder in a single major league game for the New York Giants on June 29, 1905. His story was popularized by Shoeless Joe, a novel by W. P. Kinsella, and the subsequent 1989 Oscar-Nominated “Best Picture” Field of Dreams, starring Kevin Costner, and featuring Burt Lancaster and Frank Whaley as older and younger incarnations of “Moonlight” Graham. On June 29, 1905, the Giants were the visiting team against the Brooklyn Superbas. In the bottom of the eighth inning of that baseball game, Graham was sent in to play right field, replacing George Browne. In the top of the ninth inning, Graham was on deck to bat next when his teammate Claude Elliott flied out resulting in the third and final out. Graham played the bottom of the ninth inning in right field but never came to bat, and that game turned out to be his only appearance in the major leagues.

After playing in the minor baseball leagues through the 1908 season, Graham completed his medical degree from the University of Maryland in 1908.  He obtained his medical license the following year and began his practice in Chisholm, Minnesota. According to Veda Ponikvar, founder of The Chisholm Free Press and Tribune, Graham jumped on a train to Minnesota after reading a small ad listing a doctor’s position. Once in Chisholm, Graham never left. He lived in Chisholm until his death 54 years later in 1965.  “Doc” Graham, as he became known after his career as a ballplayer, served the people of Chisholm for fifty years. From 1915 to 1959, Graham was the doctor for the Chisholm public schools.

In the movie Field of Dreams, Iowa farmer Ray Kinsella (Kevin Costner) hears a disembodied voice in his cornfield, telling him “If you build it, he will come.” This mysterious occurrence leads Ray into the past, on an unexpected cross-country journey, and in search of an elusive connection with his long deceased father. This is a magical film about the transformative power of baseball, the love of a son for his father, and believing in something that you can’t quite define in words. In the later part of the movie, a mystical clue leads Ray to Chisholm, Minnesota.  Once in Chisholm, Ray meets the reincarnated spirit of elderly “Doc” Graham.” Graham tells Ray the story of his life including his single appearance in a major league baseball game — a game in which he never batted. The movie dialogue below provides one example of the proper definition of  “tragedy” in the context of an individual’s life:

Dr. Archibald "Moonlight" Graham as portrayed by Burt Lancaster in the 1989 "Best Picture" Oscar-Nominated movie "Field of Dreams."

Dr. Archibald “Moonlight” Graham: Well, you know I… I never got to bat in the major leagues. I would have liked to have had that chance. Just once. To stare down a big league pitcher. To stare him down, and just as he goes into his windup, wink. Make him think you know something he doesn’t. That’s what I wish for. Chance to squint at a sky so blue that it hurts your eyes just to look at it. To feel the tingling in your arm as you connect with the ball. To run the bases – stretch a double into a triple, and flop face-first into third, wrap your arms around the bag. That’s my wish, Ray Kinsella. That’s my wish. And is there enough magic out there in the moonlight to make this dream come true?

Ray Kinsella: Fifty years ago, for five minutes you came within… y-you came this close. It would KILL some men to get so close to their dream and not touch it. God, they’d consider it a tragedy.

Dr. Archibald “Moonlight” Graham: Son, if I’d only gotten to be a doctor for five minutes… now that would have been a tragedy.

Ray, like my friend, defined “tragedy” in the context of a kid’s game that turned professional. “Moonlight” Graham would have been one of fiction’s (and Hollywood’s) great characters, except for the fact that “Moonlight” Graham was a real person.  He really did become the beloved town doctor of Chisholm, Minnesota. And, he really did play in just one major league baseball game. That one game was played over 100 years ago, and was the subject of a msnbc feature narrated by Keith Olbermann, entitled Moonlight Graham Remembered.

Shortly after his death in 1965, Veda Ponikvar wrote the following obituary for Dr. Archibald Graham in the local Chisholm newspaper:

As the community grew, Doc became an integral part of the population. There were good years and lean ones. There were times when children could not afford eyeglasses, or milk, or clothing because of the economic upheavals, strikes, and depressions. Yet no child was ever denied these essentials, because in the background, there was a benevolent, understanding Doctor Graham. Without a word, without any fanfare or publicity, the glasses or the milk, or the ticket to the ball game found their way into the child’s pocket.

A person would be fortunate to possess the qualities embodied by “Moonlight Graham;” humility, grace, kindness, hope and inspiration. Dr. Graham is a genuine example of a life well-spent.  Archibald “Moonlight” Graham, in life, and as portrayed in the movie, understands the true meaning of the word “tragedy.”

Sue-Louise Newmann

Did you ever sense the inner character an individual without ever meeting that person? I did, and her name is Sue-Louise Newmann. About a week ago, I was updating the Libby’s H*O*P*E* ovarian cancer video library when I came across three YouTube videos posted by Sue-Louise Newmann’s husband. Each video consists of a picture montage set to music. The picture montages reveal the couple’s special life moments such as getting married, having children, celebrating birthdays and anniversaries, and traveling overseas.  The background music playing in each video was composed and sung by Sue-Louise.

In terms of “internet presence,” I only discovered a limited amount of information about Sue-Louise Newmann.  Sue-Louise was married and a mother to two young daughters. She lived in Australia. Newmann was also the head of human resources for an Australian utility company. As a gifted songwriter and muscian, she played many of the instruments that were used to record her songs.

Sue-Louise was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2006, and she died in February 2009 at the age of 46. The three songs that accompany the video picture montages were recorded by Sue-Louise after her doctor informed her that she would likely live for only nine more months. The video titles (and the song titles) are Time of My Life, Waiting For a Miracle, and Don’t You Forget About Me. I extend my highest gratitude to Sue-Louise’s husband for creating and publicly sharing these videos.

Time of My Life

Despite the fact that I never met Sue-Louise, the video picture montages leave no doubt that her life was filled with love, family, and music. Sue-Louise’s inner character shines bright in each picture. I believe that Sue-Louise possessed “ordinary grace,” a term coined by the author Kathleen Brehony in her book bearing the same title.  In that book, Brehony explains that ordinary grace does not only live in great cathedrals and holy ashrams, it lives in ordinary people who have found a place in their lives for love, generosity and simple kindness. Sue-Louise’s ordinary grace manifests itself in her pictures, as well as the notes and lyrics of her songs. In proper context, the death of Sue-Louise Newmann, as a wife, a mother, a friend and a talented songwriter, is clearly a tragedy. The loss of any women from ovarian cancer is a tragedy.

From Tragedy Comes Hope & Inspiration

The loss of Archibald “Moonlight” Graham and Sue-Louise Newmann is certainly tragic, however, their lives exemplify hope and inspiration. Dr. Graham turned the loss of a professional baseball career into a life of helping others through medicine and random acts of kindness. Sue-Louise Newmann also lived a full life. When confronted with imminent death from ovarian cancer, Newmann chose to write and sing beautiful songs that will forever touch and inspire us.  Each individual, when faced with difficulty or life-threatening circumstances, chose to inspire hope in others. In the end, such inspiration creates an everlasting legacy that transcends death.

So, the next time you experience a bad day, a career disappointment, an angry driver, or a curt salesperson, take a moment to realize that these events do not rise to the level of a tragedy.  And, at the end of each day, ask yourself the following question: “How will I be remembered in my eulogy or tribute video?”

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*”Vox Populi,” a Latin phrase that means “voice of the people,” is a term often used in broadcast journalism to describe an interview of the “man on the street.”

In the spirit of Vox Populi, Libby’s H*O*P*E*™ searches online for original pieces of writing or visual media 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 and visual media features that we discover run the gamut; sometimes poignant, sometimes educational, sometimes touching, sometimes comedic, but always honest. The Vox Populi feature may take the form of an essay, editorial, poem, letter, story, song or picture montage.

It is our hope that the Vox Populi feature will allow our 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 or visual media pieces suitable for publication as Vox Populi features.

Vox Populi*: Libby, We’ll Be Missing You

Vox Populi:  Libby, We’ll Be Missing You.

voxpopDear Libby,

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
Reminisce sometime
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
Bluebirds fly
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.

Libby Remick (1982 - 2008) Grieve not, nor speak of me with tears, but laugh and talk of me as if I were beside you there. -- Isla Paschal Richardson

Libby Remick (1982 - 2008) "Grieve not, nor speak of me with tears, but laugh and talk of me as if I were beside you there." -- Isla Paschal Richardson

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.

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  • 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.
  • 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%.

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*”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.