In the past month I lost a very good friend to Cancer. When receiving word of her death, the message said that Rita had lost her battle. I in turn shared this with our mutual friends. As I wrote people to let them know, I began to question the phrase “lost her battle”. I thought of Rita, and how she lived her life up until the very end.
Rita was an amazing woman. She authored several books and traveled the world, all while she was undergoing treatments. Rita never missed the opportunity to make an event special, and to connect with friends and family.
When she had her treatments, she would organize tea parties to enjoy with her friends, complete with white gloves, hats, and all! Her tea parties brought joy not only to her, but to the many patients around her receiving chemo. Rita came to be known as the “happening place to be”. She and her friends lovingly referred to her parties as “Rita’s Salons”.
Rita ran workshops to assist people with retirement, and find their joy in a new chapter of their lives. She would have a treatment in the morning, and be at the airport in the afternoon, off to one of many events she would host! Rita’s treatments were grueling, but they never stopped her. I would always be in awe of how she could push herself during her regimen of chemos and radiations.
Rita decided early on that her cancer, along with a fracture in her pelvis from the cancer, would not stop her from traveling. In fact, it was just the opposite. As she would be receiving her infusions, she would be planning her next trip. Often these plans sustained her through such difficult treatments. Then off she would go, on her next adventure. She drove her Oncologist crazy, but he understood, and would always tailor her treatments around her travels!
Rita took up photography, chronicling her many travels, endeavors, nature, everyday scenes, and all of her “slices of life”. She held an exhibit of her work for her 60th birthday, sharing her infectious joy with those she loved.
Rita’s last book is entitled “Showing Up For Life Each Day, Living With Cancer”. This gem exemplifies the attitude that a person who is winning the battle encapsulates. A quote from Rita’s Foreword of the book says it all…
“At the risk of sounding Pollyanna-ish, I look back over these four years with a gleam in my eye. These have been amongst the best years of my life. That’s because I am alive in everything around me. Joy, friends, and family surround me. I continue to party and take risks despite new physical limitations, and I am experiencing new things and seeing the world as my kaleidoscope.”
Rita taught me that if you do not let your Cancer define you, but continue your life with joy, even in the most difficult moments, you win the battle. There are people winning the battle every day. Rita, and they, are truly my heroes.
“Til Next Time,