I was also going to post some photos, but my heart is not in it, because today, I read this post from Ann Gregory's husband, Chris, on her blog, Ann's Fight: "At 9:30AM this morning my best friend, wife, lover and radiant bride took her last breath. The light is gone from the world."
I have been following that fight since starting my blog in 2008. Like many readers who had never met her, I felt as though I knew her. Our struggles were similar: leukemia (hers was ALL, or Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia), transplant, getting back to normal, relapse, Graft vs. Host Disease, prednisone...
Some years ago, it seemed like she would be OK. She and Chris were so happy when they bought their home. She planted a garden. Returned to school. Dreamt of having children.
PJ (Patricia) talked to Ann every Sunday. Because PJ lived near enough, we became real friends. We talked to Ann about coming East from her home in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Or maybe, we thought, we could meet half way. Have a cup of coffee or tea. Support each other in person as we had done virtually.
Ann and Chris called me when a squamous cell cancer was discovered on her tongue and had to be removed. They knew I had gone through something similar, and they wanted to talk before the surgery. Only mine was pre-cancerous, discovered early when I was getting a tooth pulled. (A real pain, getting 11 teeth removed. A stroke of luck.) I told them it was kind of weird to have a piece of your tongue scooped out but not too terrible.
It was for her, though, because that squamous cell carcinoma spread through her system and lead to her death at the way-too-young age of 40.
Her Facebook wall is filled with pictures of her young and healthy, and, even when she lost her hair after the last barrage of treatment, still with that radiant smile. Throughout, expressions of heartbreak.
Her friend Jody Schoger, who has been writing eloquently about her own cancer fight, said this:
"I'm grateful for the life of Ann Betts Gregory -- her light, a keen intelligence illuminated by such a generous and kind soul. She was funny, impish, loyal. She had more cancer in her adulthood than should be possible -- pure testament to her determination and strength."
Four of us had bonded through our leukemia blogs, three of us with AML.Dori, who I knew through her husband Jim's blog Run for Dori; PJ on The Plog, Ann, and me.
Now there is only me.