Those who knew Laurie knew her as a kind and caring wife, sister, daughter, niece and friend. Laurie was also a nurse and a tremendously effective breast cancer advocate. She was the stuff of legends here at the Breast Cancer Coalition, involved with our annual Cindy L. Dertinger “Advanced Breast Cancer: Tools for the Journey” seminar, where she so willingly and graciously shared her story as a panelist for the past two years. She never failed to offer her words of wisdom as we planned, and always tagged her comments with “don’t make this depressing!” and “Remember. We’re LIVING with advanced breast cancer, not dying of it,” always followed by a giggle.
Laurie was also an early member of our “Living with Metastatic Breast Cancer” Support Group. After a while, Laurie decided she wasn’t so good at getting support as much as she enjoyed giving it. True to form, Laurie volunteered as a PALS mentor. PALS (Peer Advocates Lending Support) was the perfect fit for Laurie, who loved speaking with those who were newly diagnosed with Metastatic Breast Cancer. Imagine hearing such a diagnosis. Laurie knew, firsthand, that as devastating as it was to hear “you have breast cancer” the first time, “multiply that by a zillion” when you hear it for the second or third time. Laurie knew those diagnosed with Metastatic Breast Cancer needed to hear messages of hope. She used her personal experience and her nursing skills to ensure this message was received. Yes. Advanced Breast Cancer is not good news… but it is also not the last chapter of your book. And it certainly wasn’t in Laurie’s case.