A Special Patient With Cancer Made an Indelible Mark


I’m mourning the death of a patient with cancer who I had never met in person, yet I loved and admired her just the same.

cartoon drawing of blogger and prostate cancer survivor, Ron Cooper

I’m mourning the death of a patient with cancer who I had never met in person, yet I loved and admired her just the same.

Her name was Cecilia.

Cecilia and I met over Zoom in a twice-weekly support group hosted by our Gilda’s Club in Louisville, Kentucky. Although nearly 1,000 miles separated us, none of that mattered to me or other members of our group. She provided a truly warm presence coupled with a pleasant disposition for all.

Just hearing her name caused me to smile. Just hearing her speak in gentle tones was so calming. Just being told that she was hospitalized and could not attend our meeting left me deeply concerned.

And just learning of her passing was emotionally devastating, leaving a void that will never be filled.

For several decades, Cecilia served with all her being in the nursing profession. She had a servant’s heart and rarely placed the focus on her own health struggles in the final few years of her life. Such selflessness is not easy to find in our world, but Cecilia was the very essence of it. No matter how weak or sick she felt, she always asked how the rest of us in the group were doing, putting our welfare ahead of hers.

Cecilia faced her illness with grace, relying upon her precious faith in God and the love of her devoted family — including grandbaby Robert — to keep her grounded and content. During our Zoom sessions, Robert would make frequent appearances, held lovingly in the arms of his grandmother and eliciting many “oooohs” and “ahhhhs” from the support group.

Gilda’s Club Kentuckiana held a special place in Cecilia’s heart. From her living room, she zoomed in not only on our support group created to share a few laughs during the cancer journey, but also a sarcoma support group. Gilda’s kept her happily occupied and connected during her surgeries, treatments and hospitalizations. She had first joined us in 2020.

So, when it came time for our club to hold an annual fundraising event, Cecilia told her family she was all in for it.Family set out to raise funds in her name for the “Over the Edge” event on May 13, when participants, under the watchful eye of professional riggers, would rappel down the side of an 18-story hotel in downtown Louisville.

The event coincided with Cecilia’s time under hospice care. But, selfless as always, she made it clear that she wanted a few family representatives to take the plunge for Gilda’s. They did in fact make the trip from their Houston area home to Louisville, while other members of Cecilia’s clan stayed behind at her side. Sadly, Cecilia passed away only hours before the event was staged.

Our group poured their hearts out with condolences to the family. One of them read:

“Earth has no sorrow that heaven cannot heal. May the precious memories of our dear Cecilia bring joy and strength to us in the Lunch & Laughs group and to her family.”

These words seemed to sum up how all of us felt toward Cecilia.

Cecilia, so precious to our hearts, left a legacy with Gilda’s and all of us club members so fortunate to have crossed paths with her. May she rest in peace.

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