Monday, February 6, 2012

Our Virtual, Very Real Friend Rachel

Acceptance of the lethality of Rachel's cancer filtered through my dreams early this morning. Suddenly I realized her death would be sooner, rather than later. With that, oddly enought, I fell into an even deeper sleep. Then I woke to these words coming from NPR on the radio:
         "Just treating it is not enough."
         Just treating is is not enough.  Amen.
         I fed the dog, brewed coffee and checked Facebook.
         "Our friend is gone," Gayle Sulik, author of Pink Ribbon Blues, had written to us.

Treatment was not enough for our incredible friend. Her metastatic breast cancer swept through and around every chemo agent put in its path. Rachel Cheetham Moro, beloved wife of Anthony, born in Australia and a fierce intelligence, wit and friend, is dead at 42.
        The magnitude of her message will be topics for many posts to come.
        But for today, her death painfully illustrates the difference in virtual communities and the real world.  How do we mourn this vital presence when we have nothing tangible to touch?
        We were like family. We said as much to each other.
        But in the end, we aren't family. We aren't and could not be there, absorbing each setback during the past week, driving to the hospital, bringing coffee, kleenex, human touch. I couldn't rearrange the hospital sheets for the umpteenth time, stroke her arm, or read to her. We could not touch her cheek nor give her beloved husband a hug. That is the reality.
        The virtual world leaves us her words...raging and often outrageously funny blog posts, emails, DM's, messages on Skype and of course, jokes. Always. Always something to laugh about.  If were weren't swearing, that is. There was something about cancer, and that powerlessness it evokes, that set free our inner sailor.  More cancer asshattery, she'd write. We'd cuss cancer up one side and down another.  If those words could burn she'd still be with us today, believe me.
Plotting cancer strategies at NBCC, May 2011.

Instead, I'll try to deal with the fact that she's gone.  I hope you have some time today to gather your thoughts and remembrances. We'll attempt to bridge the virtual and real worlds in a #BCSM tweetchat dedicated to her. Yes, we will grieve together, celebrate, and yes, laugh.

Someone asked me how our #BCSM community would deal with the loss of a member.  I said I didn't know, but that we weren't going to sweep it away and we weren't going to hide. Our lives matter more than that - Rachel's life, your life.

We'll do the best we can, one step at a time.

With all my love to Rachel.

Special thoughts for Deanna Attai, MD, Katie Ford Hall, Kathi Kolb, Lani Horn, Sarah Horton, Alicia Staley, Nancy Stordahl, and not at all last, Gayle Sulik, PhD.

And thanks to Gary Schwitzer, our previously scheduled #BCSM guest, who graciously stepped aside tonight. I'll announce when he'll be able to rejoin us later this week.


katie ford hall said...

Love to you Jody. :)

Jan said...

What a wonderful tribute to Rachel. I wish I could have reached across the 'net to comfort her and her loved ones. She will be sorely missed. Thank you so much for all you do, Jody. XOXO Jan

AnneMarie said...

Rachel has enriched my life in ways I can't begin to describe in just six short months. THANK you for bringing together BCSM and helping us become the tightest support group I have even seen. I send love to you, too Jody. I know your heart is broken. xoxox

Jody said...

She is so amazing...I just am glad I have all of you to share these memories with. We have many sad, and happy, and incredible conversations to come.

Peace and blessings,

elizabeth said...

Heartbreaking. Jody, what a beautiful tribute to her, although it was hard to get through. My heart hurts for you, her family, her friends, her sherpas ...

Annemieke said...

Dear Jody,

Thank you so much for this beautiful blog. Rachel will be missed but also remembered by so many for such a long time. Thank you for all you do in the fight against this disease that once again took a fierce warrior from us way too soon. Big hug, Annemieke

Ann said...

Jody, she was such a special voice in a community full of amazing people. You honor her with your tribute.

Nancy's Point said...


Thank you for your words. This loss is heartbreaking, but reading your words helps a little.

We'll do the best we can, one step at a time. I'd add, we'll do it together. Love to you.

itsthebunk said...

Tears running down my face. Thank you Jody for once again finding just the right words. All my love to you and to all.
I'll be there tonight.

Cecily said...

Thank you for this beautiful remembrance of an amazing woman. said...

It's times like these, when we lose another member of our family, that the clock ticks louder. The next time we say goodbye to a friend, it could be any one of us. Thanks for writing this, Jody.


Medical Lessons said...

Thanks for writing this, Jody. Rachel was a wonderful and witty writer. I admired her for the braveness and generosity with which she approached life. - Elaine

Ann Becker-Schutte, Ph.D. said...

Jody, what a beautiful tribute to a passionate, powerful warrior. Thank you for sharing your perspective and reminding each of us why the quest for answers, prevention and change needs to go on. Sending much love and warmth as you miss this dear friend.

The Accidental Amazon said...

Oh, Jody, this is truly an infamous day. Rach and now Susan. I have no more words right now.

Love you, my friend.

Jackie Fox said...

Thank you Jody. Our friendship may have been virtual and as you said we couldnt be there to smooth the sheets or bring the Kleenex but the tears and sense of loss are all too real.I wouldn't miss tonight for the world.

Debbie said...

A fabulous tribute to a fabulous woman. Much love, deb

PinkRibbonBlues said...

This is beautiful, Jody. Rachel's strategizing glimmer. Yes, we will carry it on.

Love and blessings,


afreshchapter said...

Big love to you. Thank you for this beautiful and perfect tribute. I missed the #BCSM chat because of the time change, but being able to read all of the wonderful posts and comments about one of our brightest and bravest makes me feel connected to all of you, even from the other side of the world and even with tears running down my face. Thank you for all you do.
Wishing you strength and love in the tough moments still to come.

Beth L. Gainer said...


This tribute is simply beautiful. Thank you for sharing it.

joinourloop said...

Rachel was brilliant, original, and brave. While I did not agree with her on everything, I have great respect for the fierce intensity of her intellect, and the way she applied it to breast cancer.

I just watched her "pink hall of shame" gallery. Hilarious!

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