“Find a bit of beauty in the world today. Share it. If you can't find it, create it. Some days this may be hard to do. Persevere.”
Lisa Bonchek Adams tweeted those words on February 27 along with a photo of a peony from her garden.
This must have been especially hard to do, because the Connecticut mother of three was at the time writing about the downhill slope in her treatment for terminal stage IV breast cancer that had metastasized to her liver.
Yet that positive attitude had prevailed through more than 175,000 tweets and frequent blog posts chronicling her more than eight years living with breast cancer.
Like many who followed her on Twitter, I felt like I had gotten to know Lisa. So I was saddened to open my Facebook feed on Saturday and learn that she had died a day earlier at age 45, according to this post on her website:
“The thousands upon thousands who knew and loved Lisa Bonchek Adams; whether in person or via Facebook, Twitter, or her website and blog read around the world; whether up close or from afar; will find it hard to believe that her steely will and indomitable spirit were finally overcome by the disease she had lived with for so many years.”
She was treated at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York, and had asked that anyone wishing to honor her memory contribute to her fund for breast cancer research
“In keeping with Lisa’s wishes, this web site will be maintained as a resource of Lisa’s writings about metastatic breast cancer, grief and loss, life, and family,” the announcement read.
If you read Lisa’s posts and tweets, you felt like we were with her every step of the way. And her detailed descriptions of her treatment were not just personal but also educational.
“For many, Lisa offered a window into what it was like to be dying of cancer but still reaching for new experimental therapy, for continued treatment, for hope grounded in reality,” Elaine Schattner wrote in “Forbes” magazine.
Lisa attracted national attention last year when Emma Keller, then a contributor to “The Guardian,” newspaper, and Keller’s husband Bill, then an op-ed writer at “The New York Times,” wrote columns criticizing her. Emma said Adams had overshared, and Bill suggested she give up nonpalliative treatments. Their words created an uproar.
Over the weekend, several people shared this post that Lisa wrote in October 2014, entitled “When I Die” and reading in part:
“When I die don’t think you’ve lost me.
I’ll be right there with you, living on in the memories we have made.
When I die don’t say I ‘fought a battle.’ Or ‘lost a battle.’ Or ‘succumbed.’
Don’t make it sound like I didn’t try hard enough, or have the right attitude, or that I simply gave up.
When I die don’t say I ‘passed.’
That sounds like I walked by you in the corridor at school.
When I die tell the world what happened.
Plain and simple.
No euphemisms, no flowery language, no metaphors.
Instead, remember me and let my words live on.
Tell stories of something good I did.”
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