Cynthia was 54 when she died Dec. 29 of breast cancer. And I’ve already blogged once about what it was like to work with her at the Muscatine Journal. I won’t rehash all of that today.
But since everyone doesn’t read the newspaper every day, I borrowed this ad from the pages of Wednesday’s Journal in order to help at least a little with publicity. Everyone — well, at least as many people as possible — should attend this fundraiser at 4 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 8, at the Community Hall in Buffalo.
Cynthia was an actual newspaper colleague — someone I worked with and knew well.
Frank Myers, on the other hand, is someone I’ve come to think of as a friend even if we never worked together and have only met face to face a couple of times. Like me, Frank is a recovering ink-stained wretch who grew up in Lucas County. He writes a very good blog these days instead of working at a newspaper. His Lucas Countyan is something I read every day because it is good and also because Frank is better than I am about posting something every day.
One of his recent posts has stuck with me:
Reading that makes this seem like a good time to thank those of you who keep coming back here. It’s humbling and flattering to think you are at least sometimes interested in what I have to say. I’m approaching the second anniversary of being downsized out of a job at the Journal, which is when I really started writing this blog.
As I look back at some of those early entries, I’m shamed by how whiny they sound even though, as Frank says, it’s OK for this blog to be all about me. After all, it’s my blog.
Losing my job was scary — one of the most traumatic and depressing things I had experienced as an adult. It’s not something I would wish on anyone. But then I think about Cynthia.
During my summer of unemployment, when I wasn’t applying and interviewing for jobs, or worrying about when I would find one, I spent a lot of time on a bicycle. In that respect, it was a great summer.
That same summer — on July 12 — Cynthia learned she had triple negative metaplastic breast cancer, which is rare and aggressive. A Johns Hopkins study puts the five-year overall survival rate for this type of cancer at 65 percent.
Cynthia’s treatments had included chemotherapy, surgery and radiation. She had undergone treatment every three weeks at the Cancer Treatment Center of America in Zion, Illinois — some 440 miles roundtrip from her home in Blue Grass — until all treatment options were exhausted.
And yet, when she died, many of the people who knew her, didn’t even know she had been ill.She contined to work for as long as she could. She went about the end of her life with the kind of grace, quiet strength, humor and determination that, I’m pretty sure, had pulled her through many previous challenges.
It’s an admirable way to live. And to die. In at least this one way, I’m going to try harder to be a bit more like Cynthia in the future.
If anyone reads this and decides to attend the benefit, please let me know if there is room on your trivia team for an old newspaper hack. I’d be honored to join you in helping raise money for Cynthia’s family.