This part’s really hard

When I was diagnosed with lung cancer I immediately understood that loss was going to play a big part in my life. What I didn’t understand was that it wouldn’t all be personal. You see, I never anticipated becoming close to so many others with cancer—it just wasn’t part of my initial game plan.

However, once I was restaged to IV I knew I couldn’t go it alone anymore and I began to seek out others with lung cancer. Not long after I also took my first steps into advocacy and before I knew it, I had a lot of friends who shared my diagnosis.

The upside to these relationships is obvious–no one knows better what it is like to have this disease than someone who is living with it. The downside is that cancer is a brutal and relentless foe and a lot of my friends haven’t made it.

Each time it’s a real punch in the heart.

Yesterday I learned that my dear friend Ginger Wyler Saunders had passed away. I met Ginger some years ago in the Whole Foods down the street from MGH. We were sitting across from each other at a crowded table during the busy lunch hour and all was chaos around us. She looked at me and said ‘We are the two quietest people here.’ With that we began to chat and I learned that she had also been diagnosed with lung cancer–twenty six years earlier. I think I asked her if I could touch her–I was so amazed to meet someone who had lived for such an extended period post diagnosis.

Anyway, we became pals. We emailed, met for lunch, and called occasionally as well. Sadly, Ginger was diagnosed with a second cancer; ovarian. She fought tenaciously but gained little ground. Yesterday her daughters let me know that she was gone. Today I sat at what I thought was perhaps the same table at Whole Foods. And I wept rather openly as I ate. I love you Ginger–cancer can’t take that.

Linnea and Ginger

Linnea and Ginger 3/11

11 responses to “This part’s really hard

  1. So sorry, Linnea. I can’t imagine how hard it is to experience all the loss. Ginger sounds wonderful. Wish there was some way to ease the pain.

  2. I’m so sorry for your loss.

    I’m glad you are writing again. Your thoughts mirror mine when I read your blog. It helps so much to know others have the same emotions about this disease yet you give us all hope Linnea. Keep writing…….I love what you write. We need to “Keep on Dancing”.

  3. Linnea, I know. ❤️ So many in our circle have lost friends and each one is heartbreaking. I reflect on the loss of a dear friend who took his own life when he had a LC recurrence rather than face the painful death failing treatment would bring. Each time I’m feeling defeated, ready to step away from advocacy to try to live a “normal” life, I read a story like this and rededicate myself to speak for the people LC has silenced. Much love my dear friend. <>

  4. So sorry. I’m jealous of all the amazing peeps you meet along the way. Xo

    Sent from my iPhone


  5. Linnea-
    May Ginger rest in peace. Thank you for sharing your journey. Sorry for your loss.

  6. I am thinking about my friend Rebecca right now and feeling your sadness. I am grateful for my connection to you.


  7. I’m so sorry to hear about your friend… Hope all is well with you! Miss seeing you, my friend. Xoxo

    Sent from my iPhone


  8. Angela Branz-Spall

    I have been following your blog since I was diagnosed with nsclc in 2009. You kindly explained to me what GGOs were. Six years later, and we are both still here. Many times your words were the only things I had to hold on to.
    Once again, tonight, your words express the pain I feel in learning that I
    I am losing one of my dearest friends to Cancer. But you have said the only thing that will get me through this: Cancer can not take away my love.for my friend.Thank you so much- stay well. Angela from MT

  9. Linnea,
    What a lovely tribute to Ginger, and to the special friendship you both shared. I’m very sorry for your loss. But I know you will always be in each others hearts together.
    Love you, m

  10. Ah Linnea, you make me cry too! I am sorry. Lucky Ginger to have had you as a friend! xxxxxLiz

  11. Oh I so feel for you. I’m sorry.

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