Farrah Fawcett’s two and a half year battle with anal cancer was heroic, as most such battles are. What makes her death especially notable is the information she gave us about her disease, and her determination, even though she’d been told she could not be cured, to fight for her life.
One of the greatest gifts we humans can give our family and friends during such a prolonged illness is to share our journey, as sad and as difficult as that might be, and to put up a good fight. The tendency is often to withdraw and slam a door closed behind us, shut everyone out, and give up. When that happens, everyone loses.
Farrah’s willingness to talk about her experience, not only with those close to her, but with everyone who wanted to be there, was a blessing. Her approach reminds me of two others who gave us more of themselves than most would.
One is Gilda Radner, the Saturday Night Live legend who died of ovarian cancer, a sneaky disease that is very hard to diagnose. A twentieth anniversary edition of her book, It’s Always Something, has just been released by Simon & Schuster. Your library probably has a copy as well. First published not long before her death, Gilda’s book is poignant and funny and so real you feel you know her by the time you turn the last page.
The second book is more recent: It’s the print version of The Last Lecture by Carnegie Mellon Professor, Randy Pausch. Pausch died of pancreatic cancer in July, 2008, just a few months after the book was released. In The Last Lecture, he passes on life lessons, and shares his passion for the work he accomplished and the family he loved.
Yes, the stories are sad, but they also remind us of some universal truths. I highly recommend both.