Susan is a pastor at Trinity United Church in Deerfield, Illinois. Cancer first struck Susan’s family when she was 8 years old, with the passing of her grandfather after a battle with stomach cancer. Later, Susan’s grandmother passed away because of Leukemia, and in March of 2012, pancreatic cancer took her mother’s life as well. Despite cancer’s prevalence in her family medical history, Susan still maintains a positive attitude and does not worry about developing cancer.
She was not afraid, but still didn't want to die. I don’t think anybody does. Still, she fought until the last minute. In fact, most days she’d say: I’m ready to die, but not today… but she was certain that there was something more. And I’ve said to many people that [as a pastor] I have buried so many wonderful people, that I have to believe that they haven’t just ceased to be; that their spirits are somewhere.
I mean, everybody has to die of something. And so … yeah I think eventually that [cancer] probably will be what I die from. But I’m not really worried about it. You know, what happens, happens.
In the beginning, [my mother] was still able to remember most things, but not everything and had lost most of her short-term memory; every day when I would go there I would have to tell her that she was dying of cancer, because she forgot. And I would have to relive that every day… I think the hardest part is to try to remember who the person was before the cancer … I mean I got really frustrated with [my mother] because she would ask me the same question every 3 minutes. The first 5 times that you tell her what day it is or what time it is or whatever, you know, it’s okay. And then, by the time you get to time 10, it gets so [frustrating] … And I would have to keep saying to myself: this is her cancer talking to me. This is not my mother, who is intelligent and beautiful and wonderful. This is somebody else. But that’s really hard. And so you just kind of have to step back.
Karen Hill Ambler Greencastle, IN
Russell Wooten Oakdale, WI