October was Breast Cancer Awareness month. I would like to close October with the story of a breast cancer victim. She wasn't a survivor, though she could have been. You won't find her in any history books or anywhere else on the web.
Delores, known as "Dee" to her friends was born on April 17 in 1928, To John William and Augusta Morris in Washington D.C. As a child, she had a grandfather who lived with them that had been blinded as an adult and could not adapt to his blindness. She helped him daily with his meals, telling him where on his plate his food was by using his memory of the appearance of a clock. She would tell him that his meat was at midnight and his vegetables were perhaps at 6 o'clock, or wherever they might be placed on his plate. Daily she took him for walks around town.
A graduate of Anacostia High School in Washington, D.C., she met Cecil Bostic in her Senior year there shortly after he had arrived home from WWII. After 27 days of knowing him, they decided that they were madly in love, married and settled in D.C. Eventually, they moved to the Maryland suburbs, had three baby boomer children, and the Niece of Cecil who came to live with them. There was hardly ever a time when a grandparent or two didn't live with them for whatever health reasons. Not a day in her life went by without a kind word, or a random act of kindness from this woman for anyone who might be sad or in need. At Christmas a separate room was stacked high with gifts for anyone that came to visit, including dozens of "just in case" gifts for those unexpected drop-ins. Her front door was always open with a perpetual welcome sign to anyone who might be happening past. She touched the hearts of all who knew her.
A visit in 1966 to her husband's childhood home in the poverty stricken Appalachian Hollows of West Virginia convinced her that something had to be done to help there. Dee and her husband (fondly known as "Cee"), returned to their church in the Maryland suburbs of Washington, where he was Sunday school superintendent and she a Sunday school teacher. They recruited all the assistance they could find, and truckloads of items were taken to West Virginia to help. They also started the necessary paperwork, at their own expense, to get government loans and housing for the residents of PitCairn Hollow. The Washington Daily News picked up the story and was in the process of doing a three day series on the assistance that they were trying to give, when Cecil died suddenly. The series was published anyway. Since women's rights hadn't taken a strong hold yet, it was impossible for Dee to continue on with the financial assistance they had been attempting to acquire. She did, however, continue with trucks of supplies to the mountains for as long as she could manage.
Her children were growing and leaving home, and in a short time she remarried and had another son in 1971. Sometime after that, she noticed that she had a small lump in her breast but fear made her shun it off like most women of her time and say that it was nothing and would surely go away. In 1981, she was visiting her daughter in Florida when it was noticed that she had let things with her body go to extreme. An entire breast had turned black, and yet she had said nothing. Her oldest son was called while she was in the air returning home on a plane. When she was met at the airport, she was taken immediately by her daughter-in-law to a doctor. Dee had breast cancer and needed a mastectomy. The doctor told her then that two and a half years was the best life expectancy that he could give her, and that if she had come to him earlier, he could have probably seen to it that she would be a survivor. A radical mastectomy was performed and chemotherapy was scheduled for the period of one year. She told her children that the chemotherapy was only preventative and that she was going to be fine. Her daughter knew better and questioned her, to which she was told that after a year of chemotherapy the doctor would run some more tests and see how things were going. Of course with cancer that severe, it had already metastasized throughout her body and the Doctor's job was simply to make her as comfortable as he possibly could when she would finally come to that point.
Two years and two months later, Dee had to give up her job in administration at the police department where she was working. Her family was with her round the clock for the next month and on November 4 of 1983, all of her children were with her when she died from this deadly killer. She had good heartedly taunted her brother, her sense of humor staying with her til the end, telling him that she was going to have a police escort when she died and he wasn't. Her funeral was attended by more people than could fit into the church and the procession to the cemetery, more than a mile long, created great traffic jams. She did indeed, have a police escort. She had touched many other lives and most of them had remembered her for it. She will not ever be forgotten.
I love you Momma. You will always be my best friend.
Miss Me But Let Me Go
When I come to the end of the road
And the sun has set for me,
I want no rites in a gloom-filled room.
Why cry for a soul that is free?
Miss me a little, but not too long
And not with your head bowed low,
Remember the love
that we once shared
Miss me-but let me go.
For this is a journey
that we all must take,
And each must go alone,
It's all a part of the master plan
A step on the road home.
When you are lonely and sick of heart,
Go to the friends we know.
And bury your sorrows
in doing good deeds,
Miss me-but let me go.
Author's note: this was not a pretty "happily ever after" survivor story. It was extremely difficult to write. However, it was intended to try and give you a sense of awareness. Sometimes it's curable - Sometimes it's not. Tell the cancer patient in your life that you love them EVERY SINGLE DAY! You might not have tomorrow.
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