Monday, March 9, 2015

Clinical Post of When a Friend Passes (I'll get more real later.)

flowers Matthew picked from yard

This doesn't really apply because it's probably about a much older person, and I also read it's really not about the loss of life, but to me it certainly seems that way.

the last picture I have of her, taken late  last summer - she's on the left

This post is rather melancholy as blogs go. I lost a friend to non-Hodgkins lymphoma today. She'd been fighting it for a couple of years. It looked as though she had it beaten, but it came back stronger than before, and she couldn't fight it off  it the second time around.  I was able to visit on Saturday. She was still mentally alert even with the drugs they had given her,  No one was giving up yet, and I don't think they did until it was over, which made her death all the harder for all of us to accept. Sometimes a family and the patient's close friends reach a point where they've seen the patient suffer too much and are ready for the fight t be over. Such was not the case in Claire's situation. She hadn't yet given up, nor had those around her. She would have been twenty-two in six months.

In Claire's case, as in many cases, it wasn't the cancer than killed her. Her only chance of beating the disease was very aggressive treatment, which in the end was too much for her body. She developed s raging case of pneumonia, largely because the drugs given her to fight the lymphoma left her immune system in a state too weakened to fight off anything else, and then pneumonia made its home in her body. there was nothing more that could be done. she came close to winning the proverbial cancer war, but not close enough.

At the request of her parents (I don't think they'e looking for a lawsuit;  I really just think they want to know for their own peace of mind that they helped Claire to make the best choices.) Since she didn't make it, one might assume that the wrong choices were obviously made, but such is not necessarily the case.  She's  a legal adult and was insistent on calling the shots herself, although she listened to what her parents had to say because she was frightened by what he was facing and knew that she was too young to know everything. Her parents  called my dad early in the process, and he offered to be of any assistance that he could. He was in contact with her doctors from the very beginning.

My dad read everything new and re-read everything he had read before. He says there's not a thing that he would have done differently.  He,  like Claire's doctors, chooses aggressive therapy in most cases. He says it's usually a patient's only chance. Sometimes the patient loses. Claire might have had a few more months with her family, and if they could have looked into that proverbial crystal ball, maybe they would have chosen that less aggressive choice in exchange for a few extra months. They didn't say that, though. My dad said that Claire's only chance was to fight the lymphoma hard  and fast. In her case, it didn't work out. My dad said the cancer was going to kill her in two months maximum time if she hadn't fought it aggressively, and that it was going to be a painful death even with drugs.  As it was, she died somewhat peacefully in her sleep.

We can all second-guess ourselves until our faces turn purple, but Claire ultimately made the call, and it was one that gave her a shorter life than she would otherwise have had. Only she knows for sure if that's the way she would have had it had she known the outcome.

This is the closest person to me that I've had die in my lifetime. It's also the only person  with whom I was personally acquainted who has died  when I actually understood medically what was happening. Though I don't want to make this about me, because it isn't. It does make me think about my own mortality and how few guarantees there are in life,

The funeral is Saturday. I'll be playing at it, but I don't know what, as kin what instrument or what songs. . I'll find out what the family has n mind.  Claire never had time to tell anyone what she wanted.

I have more to say about other topics, but they can wait for another post. I also have more to say about Claire. When I'm ready, I'll write my personal tribute to her. Right now I'm too absorbed with the details of her illness and death to think about the short but awe-inspiring life she led. Rest in peace, Claire.


  1. I'm so sorry for your loss, Alexis, and for her family's loss. Remember all the good times you had together. So tragic that she was so young.

  2. I am sorry for the loss of your friend. There really are no words that are adequate enough to relay condolence. However, it is good that her family had extra support from yours. I am sure your dad was of mental comfort to Claire and her family, at least from a decisive position.

  3. Alexis,I am sorry for your grieving. It is hard to deal with the loss of one of your own generation ,so young. Close friends never leave us ,though, we can carry them with us.

  4. Cancer sucks. :(. I'm so sorry to read about Claire. She was much too young to die. Peace be with you, Alexis.

  5. So sorry for your loss. She was around my little sister's age. Way too young

  6. Thanks for everyone's kind words.