My Aunt Debbie died today, at the end of a seven-month long battle with fast-moving peritoneal cancer. She was 58.
She did everything right--she got checked regularly, since her mother had had ovarian cancer. But despite that, despite the screenings every six months, she still developed peritoneal cancer. The doctors placed it as starting in March 2009, but it wasn't diagnosed until the summer months.
And it was so fast-moving that it ignored everything medical science could throw at it. Two disastrous surgeries did nothing. A course of chemo between the surgeries did nothing. You know it's bad, when the chemo doesn't even work in the slightest.
Peritoneal cancer, for those that don't know, is cancer of the peritoneum. Your peritoneum is the lining of your abdomen, so it literally touches every organ in your abdomen. And so at the end, my poor Aunt Debbie had cancer throughout her body that they could do nothing at all about.
It's a terrible way to die. A really terrible way to die.
But she hung on for almost a month after they moved her to a hospice. She hung on enough to spend time with her three children; two girls, Sara who's in college, Lauren who's in graduate school, and my cousin, Josh, who has Down's Syndrome and doesn't comprehend it all. She had so many visitors come to the hospice that they moved her to a larger room to hold them all. She had laughter and love and the Jets to watch in her last days.
And I know it was unavoidable, but I am still terribly sad. I want to rail against the universe for taking her away from her family and her friends. For taking this woman who has been my aunt as long as I can remember, since she married my uncle when I was two. I danced at her wedding. I remember all three of her children being born. It doesn't seem fair that I'm still alive, and she isn't, but that's how life works and it sucks.
She was beautiful, kind, and funny. She rode horses in her youth and loved science fiction. She read FEDERATIONS while she went through chemo, and loved the stories in it. She was the most dedicated Doctor Who fan I had ever met. And I will miss her terribly.