Sarah, from Sprucehill

My friend Sarah, from Sprucehill Farm and Mothers With Cancer, passed away last night after a KICK ASS fight against the cancer in her body. Sarah was diagnosed in 2008; we met here shortly after her diagnosis, and we became fast friends. Never well enough to drive at the same time, we never once met in person, but IT DIDN’T MATTER. We were still fast friends and tight always, here, on FB, on Twitter, on the blog, and on the MWC backchannel. Today, I grieve her loss.

It may be unseemly, but I admit that my grief is mixed with anger. There were not enough drugs to hold Sarah’s metastatic cancer at bay so that she could live to finish raising her darling children. There is not enough research on metastatic cancer now (only 5% of all cancer research), and I don’t know how to stop this from happening to my friends. Yes, I’m very grateful for her years since diagnosis, and I’m terribly grateful for mine, but I’m selfish — I want MORE.

This week is a good week.  (Unlike last, when I was in pain and my hair was falling out and my kids fell apart — it was simply unbloggable.)  I have energy to be out and about for half the day, and I’m spending it as a guest at a science team meeting.  I went yesterday, and it was so invigorating to be around scientists again, learning about advances in areas I used to live and breathe, and others that I knew only glancingly.  It’s good to be around people, and to have friends visit, and to take my kid to t-ball.  These are good days, and I work or play or rest and then soothe my bones each night by floating them in water, the only relief they can get from the meds that are trying to starve the cancer from multiplying in my own bones, where it has set up residence. 

My oncologist checkup is this afternooon; no worries, just blood tests to make sure my kidneys and liver still function, and to get the scrip for the next scan to see if the cancer has receded or grown in the last six weeks.  If it hasn’t grown, we stay the course and have Zometa infusion every 12 weeks and Femara daily.  If it has, well, then we move to something else.  “Something else” includes a number of chemotherapies that have been shown to work on primary tumors and may work for a time on metastasis, depending on the individual.  There are a number of chemotherapies now, and metastatic patients like me move through them one at a time after the gentler options are finished.  Like Sarah did.  Ever kind and ever brave, she nonetheless struggled with the treatments last Fall, moving from one to the next and starting Xeloda when I did.  It didn’t work, for either of us, and it put us both in bed.  The dirty little secret of cancer is treatment sucks.  The worst, though, is what everyone knows.  Cancer sucks, and it kills, and it’s not pretty in any way, shape or form.  And today, I’m angry that it took my friend, despite everything she did to fight the beast.  She did everything right.  She took the chemo, the drugs, the surgery, the hair loss, she raged against the weakness and she loved her family and her friends with a fierce passion every single day.

And still.

Rest now, Sarah.  You are loved, and you will not be forgotten.

53 Responses to Sarah, from Sprucehill

  1. Sunday says:

    I will miss Sarah’s sweet smile and how she always reached out to others to offer support, advice, and enticed us with pictures of her baked goods.

    She was a dear friend and I will miss her very much.

  2. This is a beautifully written post Susan.

  3. Katie says:

    I’m so sorry, Susan.


  4. marty says:

    I’m weeping with you this morning.

    God bless Sarah and her family.

  5. thordora says:

    I’m sorry for this loss. For your loss, for theirs.

    Love, and warm thoughts

  6. jaydub26 says:

    I hate cancer – it does indeed suck!!
    I loved Sarah and I hate the fact that I never got to meet her in person.
    Hoping one day I will meet you my friend. The bonds we forge through facebook and twitter and the blogosphere make you as real to me as the people in my life that I actually see face to face. In fact in some ways we know more honest details about each other through our blogs etc than we would necessarily know in real life. Today we are both mourning a friend. Virtual Hugs to you, my friend

  7. Annie says:

    Thank you for writing this for Sarah. She was one of my first friends on twitter. I am praying for her lovely family and mourning her loss. It’s not fair and it’s not right. It’s just not…

  8. Bon says:

    i am so sorry and so sad to hear about Sarah.

    it’s not unseemly to be angry in grief. i think particularly for a scientist like you, the lack of research and the urgency of that need must loom ridiculous and terrible.

    i thank you again for teaching me about that, for galvanizing me to try to speak for change. and put my money where my mouth is. (do you have any thoughts about where we can best send $ to help with research? seriously. it is one of my donation priorities this year, but i want to make sure i make an informed decision that goes as much to research as possible).

    sending you and your bones love and healing and strength.

  9. Elaine says:

    I’m so sorry that the research wasn’t there and didn’t come in time for Sarah. This is just awful.

  10. Pam says:

    Susan, I’m Sarah’s sister-in-law and wanted to thank you for sharing your story about your friendship with Sarah. I continue to be overwhelmed by the support she has received through these last 4 years by blogging and connecting with wonderful people such as you. I will continue to pray for you and others that are faced with this terrible battle. I too hope research can find help for all who face this now and in the future. Sending healing thoughts and prayers your way.

  11. Wendy says:

    Susan, I am so sorry for the loss of your friend, Sarah. You are right – cancer sucks and it is not fair. My thoughts are with you and Sarah’s family.

  12. I thought of Sarah all night last night. I’m so sorry she lost her battle. And I’m angry with you.

  13. Miz boo says:

    Thank you for writing this.
    I am so sad.
    Fight on.

  14. I’m so sorry, Susan.

    You have every right to your anger.

  15. Stimey says:

    I didn’t know her last name, so when I read your post on Facebook I didn’t realize at first that you were talking about Sprucehill Sarah. It’s so unfair. I am so sorry, and I am angry too.

  16. How many more Susan, how many more? *Anger amplifies* RIP lovely Sarah – I will miss our chemo tweet-ups.

  17. Niksmom says:

    Susan, I am so very sorry for the loss of your friend. She sounds like she was every bit as loving and fierce and incredible as you are. My thoughts and prayers go out to you and to her family.

  18. Maggie says:

    Just found you via FB and Cancer Culture, I have ovarian cancer and seems we have lots in common – one of those things being that we have to watch those we care for die from these ugly, horrible cancers. Stay strong and make those memories while you can and keep writing, you are a good writing and we need people like you to help us all deal with this crap.

  19. Sara says:

    Susan, I am Sarah’s SIL and I want to thank you for all of your kind words and support that you have shown Sarah. She was a fighter down to the end and is an inspiration to all. We appreciate the prayers and will continue to keep you in ours. xo, Sara

    • Right back at’cha. Thanks for your tweets this week – so many of us were waiting, and watching, and worrying. Please tell the rest of the family how much love there is for all of you still.

  20. Kristen says:

    Sarah will be missed. Her journey was so difficult but her strength is a legacy to her family. Every really bad day she had, she endured for her family.

    Every drug trial answers questions, hopefully leading to answers very very soon. Praying!

    I am so glad you are having cerebral days with other brilliant people who would not even think to offer their People Special Edition Royal Wedding to you. But feel free to call me at the end of the day for a good laugh because you know I’m way funnier than the scientists.

  21. Amelie says:

    I’m so sorry. And angry. Actually I know people doing research on metastatic cancer, but I didn’t know it was that small a proportion of cancer research…

  22. Eve W. says:

    I’m so sorry. My cousin is going through this right now. Do you have any recommendations for groups we can support or politicians we can pressure to get more research into combating and even preventing metastasis?

  23. Laurie says:

    This is beautiful, Susan. Thank you.

  24. Catherine says:

    I’m so sorry, Susan.

  25. Stella says:

    As usual, you have summed up your friendship and fight perfectly, Susan. Sadly, our friend Sarah has become a martyr for an under funded and under researched cause.

    I will miss her lovely smile always at the ready and her wonderful pictures that ensconced me in the beauty of Spruce Hill though I’ve never been in person. I will miss her voice. I will miss Sarah.

  26. Ginny says:

    I, too, am angry. I am angry that Sarah died. I am angry for her family’s loss. I feel anger towards even processed foods and the companies that make it all for cancer—the latter might be irrational, but nonetheless, I feel that way.

    I am devastated by this sudden loss and feel heartbroken for her family. Keep fighting Susan.

  27. magpie says:

    Fuck, again.

    I’m sorry and I’m angry and I’m sad.


  28. Colleen says:

    I’m so sorry, Susan. So sorry for your loss, and for the loss that Sarah’s family is facing now.

  29. annie says:

    I will miss Sarah so much. I never had the pleasure of meeting her but I could sense what a lovely and warm person she was through her blog. We blogged and emailed for a few years and I considered her to be a friend. My heart is so heavy today…

  30. Darryle says:

    I’m devastated to hear this, too. Sarah was one of the first women with cancer I “met” online and through electronic communication I could FEEL her warmth, spirit and love. Another death makes me feel more helpless and even more determined to find answers. My heart breaks for her children and loved ones.

  31. justenjoyhim says:

    *Sniff*, beautiful tribute to a beautiful woman.

  32. Sending love to you and all Sarah’s friends and family. Mostly I knew her through her comments here and your exchanges with her on twitter. A lovely person.

  33. Alice C says:

    I met Sarah through your blog and she became a friend. Her courage was inspirational. I will miss her.

  34. nancyspoint says:

    Susan, I’m so sorry for the loss of your friend. I hate how these losses keep piling up. I don’t blame you for feeling angry. We all need to be a bit angry here. Sometimes anger helps generate action. Again, I’m sorry.

  35. Megan says:


    I am sorry about the loss of your friend. My mother-in-law was diagnosed with IBC and passed away in 2001 – 4 months before my husband and I were married. My Mom died in 2009 from metastatic melanoma while I was pregnant with our second baby. She died three months after diagnosis, even after trying everything – chemo, radiation. IT ISN’T FAIR and I am so sorry to read about all your battles/struggles with two little ones.

    My thoughts/prayers are with you and Sarah’s family.


    • Oh, Megan. I am so sorry for your losses. It isn’t fair, not at all.

      • Megan says:

        Thanks Susan. I am proud of you through this virtual network (have been following your blog). I have a 4 year old and a 1 year old and know you are KICKING ASS with all your treatments. Hoping the bone mets respond to the latest treatment.

        A virtual hug to you!


  36. Kate says:

    I cried when I read this entry-a light came through in her writing. Her family is in my thoughts an prayers.

  37. mylifeasitis says:

    I’m so sorry.

  38. Editdebs says:

    I’m so sorry for your loss, and the loss to her family. I will keep you all in my prayers.

  39. Jackie says:

    I’m so sorry for your loss.

  40. NYFriend says:

    Sincere condolences to you and Sarah’s family.

    I’m glad this week is a good week though.

  41. “…we never once met in person, but IT DIDN’T MATTER.”

    So true. I feel closer with a couple on-line friends whom I’ve never met than I do with most of the “friends” in my neighborhood.

  42. Amanda says:

    I am so angry. I have so enjoyed the vollies of communication she and I have had on Twtitter.

    I just wish this all wasn’t so.

    Relived to hear that things are better for you and, I suppose in some ways, happy she is no longer in pain.

  43. Amy says:

    WHAT? I am in complete shock!! We communicated a bit on twitter and I always enjoyed her quips and of course her beautiful, peaceful photography and the sheer joy that her husband, daughter, farm and dog brought to her. I had no idea! Like so many others, I will miss her.

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