Wednesday, June 11, 2014


PostScript:  It wasn't one week.  On June 18th, seven days after this post originally appeared, Barb Bristow was stolen from us.  Eighteen months from mets diagnosis to death.  For however long the link works, you can find her obituary in the Lacrosse Tribune.  RIP my dear friend.  You will be missed by so many and you will live on in all of our hearts.  The very last line in her obituary says it all....

"Barb did not lose her battle with cancer; she lived graciously and courageously with it until the very end."

Indeed, she did.

JUNE 11, 2014:

I don't even know what to say.  Or how to say it.  But I must.

Those who write, who decide to launch a blog will relate to this feeling.  Is anyone actually reading this thing?  Who am I and why would my words be of interest to anyone, aside from, most likely, my mother?  If you write, you know.  If you read, you don't know.  I'll just say this: comments are great.  Or, if I had chosen a wordpress platform, they have the little like buttons which is another way of letting us know, "Hey, I was here, I read your post, I like what you are saying!"  Mostly, they let us know someone is reading which is great encouragement for those of us who continue to rant into cyberspace.

The first comment on this blog wasn't too long after I began writing.  I responded.  It's possible that person may still be popping over here from time to time.  The second comment on this blog was left by my friend Barb.  Barb Bristow.  I will remember it always.  I was writing about being "Stupid and Happy" which was advice dispensed by my dad.  Barb left me a note about her family life and how in her home, they referred to this phenomenon as Blissfully Ignorant.  It made me laugh. And we connected.

Barb is the first person I knew, who was reading this blog with any regularity.  Do you remember your first kiss?  I do.  Larry was his name and it was an elevator in a hotel in Florida.  Sounds really steamy.  I was about 13 years old and had no clue what the hell was going on.  It was all terribly awkward.  And now, my mom knows exactly what went on when my grandmother took my sister and I to Florida, three years in a row.  First blog friend holds the same place as the first kiss.  You don't forget, won't ever forget.  It's special.

Barb was okay and then, just like that, she wasn't.  One day, she alerted me to the fact that she was experiencing weird things and would be going to the hospital to have this checked out.  If my memory is correct, if it was going to be bad news, we were both hoping it was ovarian cancer.  Early stage, but definitely ovarian cancer was the preferable diagnosis.  Option B was metastasized breast cancer which we both realized would be far more difficult to treat.

I was devastated to hear that our worst fears were now her reality.  Barb was doing fine in the scheme of things, then treatments stopped working and a new protocol would begin.  This is life in the land of metastatic disease.  I fell off the planet for a good part of the year.  I completely lost touch with everyone.  Bounced on Facebook to stalk my kids a few times.  Visited twitter to make sure everything was okay.  Back to FB... wait, WHAT?  I see a note about the tough Barb Bristow finally getting home after a MONTH in the hospital.  Sucker punched.

Frantic, I tried sending a text message and then began to stalk HER son on twitter.  We exchanged a few messages and I'm guessing it was the following day he was given some news that would later be delivered by Barb to me and two other people in a group message.

She is out of treatment options.  She is at peace with this and hospice is now in her home.  Privately, I told her how much she means to me, how deeply I love her.  And privately, I cried a river of tears.

Barb was fine.

She was NED in August of 2011.

Metastatic in December of 2012.

Hospice in June of 2013.*****

****** I'm leaving this the way I originally typed it, since it's something that I KNOW my blissfully ignorant chemobrain error with my number issues would make Barb laugh right along side me.  It's not 2013, duh.....

It's 2014

I'm so saddened by this and I feel so horribly helpless.  On the sidelines without anything to offer.  So today, I ask anyone who may be reading this to hold Barb and her family close in your thoughts and if you are so inclined, in your prayers.

And Barb, if you happen to see this, know that you are surrounded by the love and light of more people than you can possibly imagine.  And know what I've already told you.  I love you, my friend, more than words can convey.

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  1. Thanks AM, this is beautiful, a lovely tribute to a wonderful woman. I'm so sad about Barb, I DM her everyday to let her know she is in my thoughts and that even virtual friends can love each other. As I say to Barb, hugs forever AnnMarie

  2. Barb you are loved by many and you are in my thoughts and prayers.

  3. She's in my thoughts, and as are you. As are all women dealing with these hard realities one way or another. I'm sorry, AnneMarie.

  4. I am holding Barb, her family, and you, AM - such a dear and loving and compassionate friend - close to my heart. I am so sorry. thank you for letting us know. much love, Karen xoxox

  5. Hi Ann Marie,
    Thank you for this post about our dear friend Barb. I just love her. Love you too. Hugs to us all.


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