Barbara Tako is a breast cancer survivor (2010), melanoma survivor (2014) and author of Cancer Survivorship Coping Tools—We'll Get You Through This. She is a cancer coping advocate, speaker and published writer for television, radio and other venues across the country. She lives, survives, and thrives in Minnesota with her husband, children and dog. See more at www.cancersurvivorshipcopingtools.com,or www.clutterclearingchoices.com.
A fellow cancer survivor mourns the passing of Kathy LaTour.
In May, I celebrated my 10-year cancer survivorship and in June I celebrated my 57th birthday. Those months also marked 7 years since my dad died of an aneurysm and 3 years since my mom died of breast cancer. May and June are two months where celebration and loss are deeply intertwined for me. Part of "adulting" is managing events of grief and joy together. Sometimes we each have days where we don't want to be the adult. Today was one of them for me.
Today, I got the news about Kathy LaTour's death from a Tweet, which in thinking back, does not seem like the "best" route to learn of someone's death. Kathy LaTour, a founder of CURE® Magazine, a fellow cancer book author, a fellow Voices writer and a fellow breast cancer survivor had just passed away.
I recently read her most recent article Putting A Bad Hair Day Into Perspective. In her last article, she mentioned her heart problems and foot surgeries and made her readers laugh with her about her hair loss issues, but she did not 'sound' terribly ill. She was almost 15 years older than me and died at age 71— I wish she had more time with us. More time is what each survivor hopes for at the time of diagnosis. Cancer survivors are acutely aware of how quickly time flies by. We know time is brief and each moment of life is to be celebrated and treasured.
My heart feels broken even though I never personally knew Kathy LaTour. She was a fellow cancer survivor and a very talented writer and speaker. She wrote a book to help fellow cancer survivors. She cared about us. Her 'Voice' of encouragement and support will be missed by many cancer survivors.
This is not the first time, as a cancer survivor, that someone I know or know about has died from cancer, and it will not be the last. Still, since my first cancer diagnosis just over ten years ago, I now 'hear' about cancer deaths differently. It feels more real, more personal, more fresh and more raw. It stings and it feels sad. Though writing can be an isolating occupation, it feels like I have lost a co-worker and the comfort of a familiar understanding voice.
Cancer survivors help and support each other through difficult times. The difficult times are less lonely because we are here for each other and we understand each other. We hear, truly hear each others' voices, and Kathy LaTour's voice will be deeply missed.
I try to work on my adulting. Some days I have more success than others. Death is part of life. Celebrate birthdays and cancerversaries. Mourn your losses. Work your way through grief. Above all, keep your hope. I think Kathy would want us to do that.