Today my friend Jo died. She had cervical cancer – a recurrence killed her. I have lost it completely, and can not stop crying. Her husband kindly took time out of his own grief to let me know this evening. So I should get a grip – he did. Why can't I?
This is a photo of Paul and Jo, taken by Karen. For me it says everything – it's 'Just Jo'…that sweet personality shines through, that happy confidence. I just love it.
Jo was a really lovely person. I met her through this blog. She commented on one of my posts ages ago, when I was still in 'omg I am going to die' mode. She told me not to worry, she had been in remission for years and I would be ok. And it helped me. A LOT. We chatted back and forth and eventually became friends on Facebook. There's a limit to how much conversation you can have in the 'comments' box…
She had a Fairy garden on FB. She would play it on her iPhone under the bedcovers when she couldn't sleep [insomnia seems part and parcel of cancer treatment – we 'watered' plants at 3.30 in the morning…]. Her favourite films were Jesus of Nazareth, Enemy of the State and Conan the Barbarian?? heh heh – get on Conan!
Then, on the 31 December 2009 she told me she had worrying symptoms and was waiting for results. It seemed like a urinary tract infection. But sadly, it wasn't. After that we were more closely in touch, as I added her to the group on FB..Jo was our 'Honourary Member'. The only woman in the group NOT to have ovarian cancer – but not the only one who has had cervical.
"I have been here for certain and I think it is an inevitable part of the process of coming to terms with how fragile, brittle and frightening life can be. When you get cancer you stare into the abyss. But I have gradually come to terms with it and feel less daunted about life these days. For me it was less about me dying, and more about what and who I was leaving behind. Frightened by how I would die, but not about actually dying itself. It all has to be sorted out in your head, and it can be lonely. No - it IS lonely. Without my faith and my family I don't think I would still have my mental health to be honest. With their love and support, I am stronger for going through it now despite all the darkness. Hugs X "
It says a lot – her comment. Even then, she was calmly accepting the inevitable. Jo was a very inspiring woman – not just because of the way she dealt with her cancer – her life was inspiring. She ran a business, she ran a household with a wonderful Son [has to be capitalised :) ] and husband [I know they are wonderful because she told me] and she had her Faith. But it was always her two men that she referred to first when she spoke of love and support.
Jo even managed her death well. "Frightened by how I would die, but not about actually dying itself." Her main worry was leaving her husband and her beloved Son. Happily, Jo died peacefully. I am so grateful for that. For her husband and son, and for her. And [selfishly] for me too – I feel relieved that she fell asleep on Thursday 20th October and moved gracefully towards peace over Friday and Saturday before passing over at 5:30am this morning.
So. Goodbye to yet another friend. Rant? Yes, probably should. But I can't. I am so exhausted with death. So. No. No rant. Just a heartfelt plea to Someone, Somewhere to find a cure.
The Kenya Cycle seems more relevant every day – these women would all still be here IF we had a cure! I would not be breaking my heart over Jo. And Gaynor. And Sweet Jane…my friends…
And yes Jo. You're right - it IS lonely.
A list in loving memory of my friends:
Diane Davis Waller
Sweet Jayne Armstrong
We won't forget you! And don't worry girls – we WILL find a cure…