As many of you know, my best friend Lori wasn’t doing well. She had a bad progression of Metastatic breast cancer (MBC). Last Saturday – a week ago today – she died. I didn’t announce it on my blog because I wanted to wait until the family had finished writing and announcing on social media.
It has been really hard on me. Lori felt guilty that she was going to die so close to the time that my mother passed – that her illness was going to be just one more thing to push me over the edge. Fortunately, three weeks ago, we shared an amazing weekend together at Commonweal as part of a weekend long retreat. That time was so powerfully healing for me. It helped me a lot with healing from mom’s passing, but also helped me come to terms with the fact that I’d be loosing Lori soon. She wasn’t bouncing back from that last progression – and the previous two month had taken so much out of her – including a near death experience as the result of an allergic reaction to a chemo. In the end she was fragile – her bones were brittle from all the tumors. Her lungs were not happy, but neither was her liver. It was just too much.
That being said, she didn’t ever stop. The weekend before she died, she spent a powerful weekend with her boys, whom she loved dearly, educating about metastatic breast cancer – and highlighting that #pinkisnotacure. When I asked her about it, she said it was epic. She had a great day – and it was awesome that she got to share it with her husband and two sons.
I’ll forever miss her – but I am so glad I got to spend as much time with her as I did. We hiked, usually twice a week, for the last three years. We smiled, we laughed, and we cried. I listened to her say, in the way she did, “that is not OK!” and “ya, right?” … I can hear her voice in my mind.
I was away much of this last week at a conference, and I found myself wanting to send her texts – which I would often do multiple times per day – only to remember, that she wasn’t there to receive the texts. Right now, that is when I miss her the most. All those times when I have something I want to share with her and she isn’t there to hear it.
I thought I’d share here the memorial post that her boys put together and posted on Facebook. They did a great job of capturing her spirit. She chose the photo before she passed …
Always with Us, Always the Activist
Lori Lynn Wallace-Pushinaitis will be forever missed after her passing Saturday night, October 20th, 2018. She died peacefully at home after a 7+ year, hard fought battle with breast cancer. Lori was a caring person who touched the lives of so many, but first and foremost, she was a fiercely loving Mother, and a supportive and loving Wife.
Always the activist, Lori was first, deeply committed to caring for the environment throughout her tenure with the City of San Jose, Environmental Services Department. If you decided to throw recycle in the garbage, or let the water run too long in Lori’s presence, you did so at your own risk!
When, in 2011 Lori was diagnosed with Stage lla breast cancer her focus turned to advocating not only for herself, but also for her fellow cancer sisters, of which there are many. She was an active member of the support group BAYS (Bay Area Young Survivors) where she both gave and received endless support to and from young women who were going through similar struggles. As the years passed, so did many of the women she grew to love so much, from a disease that she felt received more funding and attention for Awareness, than a Cure. This is where her activism took wings.
Two organizations that she felt properly addressed metastatic breast cancer and the funding needed for finding a cure are Metavivor, and Metup. She traveled the country extensively attending various conferences to bring attention to their cause.
As Lori’s cancer progression started to take its toll on her mind and body she decided to make sure she had the opportunity to pass with dignity, and on her own terms, when the time came. A fierce supporter of the California End of Life Option Act, she was asked to take part in the documentary Altered States BBC documentary, “Death”, produced by the BBC’s Louis Theroux. Louis and his film crew traveled to our home, visited with us while on vacation, and followed Lori through some of her daily trials, to shine a light on how the California End of Life Option Act can give people some comfort and control as they near the ends of their lives. Lori was extremely passionate in advocating for the End of Life Option Act in California, so terminally ill patients like herself would have the right to die with dignity, and on their own terms. This film is a parting legacy of Lori’s heroic activism and passion for what she believed in.
Lori has also published two short stories,
“Fuck Silver Linings and Pink Ribbons”, can be found in the book Shivering in a Paper Gown
“100% a Mom”, can be found in the book, Agony and Absurdity: Adventures in Cancerland
Lori is survived by her father Robert, sons Evan and Braden, husband Mark, extended family, and so many friends that have been touched by her Love and Kindness.
Patient advocacy and cancer support groups that were important to Lori’s cancer journey and require special thanks, BAYS (Bay Area Young Survivors), Metavivor, Metup, First Descent, Commonweal, and Young Survival Coalition