Monday, November 12, 2007

An Unwanted Journey: Day 0717 - Remembering Suzanne Aucoin

Suzanne died early yesterday morning on Remembrance Day. I never met Suzanne in person, but I did hear from her in email and heard her contributions to the Colorectal Cancer Association of Canada's advocacy network. I've also seen her interviewed on television. Her picture currently stands immediately above my own on the CCAC's web page listing inspirational stories.

Suzanne had a web site that was both inspiring and unnerving. Inspiring because she was a cancer activist, doing whatever she could to ensure cancer patients received appropriate and timely care; unnerving because she was so young and had already once "been cured" of Stage 1 colorectal cancer. Unnerving also because she worked diligently to become as healthy and physically fit as possible between the end of her first treatment to the time of her second diagnosis with Stage IV cancer in 2003, exactly two years before my own diagnosis of Stage III rectal cancer.

Colorectal cancer is a plague on society, something which I would never wish on my worst enemies. People like Suzanne (and others like Leroy Sievers who continues to fight valiantly and support others touched by colorectal cancer) teach us about the importance of living life fully, committing ourselves to helping others as much as we help ourselves, and advocating on the behalf of those who lives have been irrevocably touched by this plague.

Suzanne will be missed by many people, not the least of whom will be other survivors like me. We will continue to advocate on behalf of colorectal cancer patients, thinking of Suzanne and acknowledging her spirit and example in our own efforts. Today, in addition to remembering the veterans of wars, I will remember Suzanne and her battle in another war, a war often filled with silent victims. Suzanne was a vocal advocate. We will carry on her battle.

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