All, This is Steve, i am not 100% sure where to post..so you may need to help me out…
Erin Elise Van Dyke passed away yesterday at 5.48pm EST. At the time she was in the home she loved and surrounded by family that she loved and that loved her so much. As most of you know Erin has battled this horrible disease for over 3 years and not one second even until the last moment did she ever give up that fight. As a family we agree that cancer did not beat Erin, Erin continually slapped cancer in the face and said “I will not allow you to get me down” and for that we are all so very proud of her. As much as we will all and everyone she ever touched miss her physical presence we all know that she is still with us and we are being watched over and protected by the most beautiful, loving and caring angel. I know Erin spent a lot of time on this board and it was of great comfort and help to her, for that I thank you all. So today take a little strength from Erin, keep up the fight, mourn, cry and most of all celebrate a wonderful life, believe me that is what Erin would want.
Take care and love to you all
Here’s one of my favorite posts from Erin… I think it pretty much says it all. She was, IS, a truly amazing person. It’s so hard to believe that she’s gone – I can see her husband, parents, her brother all going through the motions today. Going to the funeral home. Arranging the services. Saying the same thing over and over to what seems like hundreds of people. All with that glazed-over, numb look in their eyes… she was so, so ALIVE. HOW could she be gone? Just like that?
THINKING OUT LOUD (Dec 21, 2007)
So, I would never say that my cancer was a gift. That is something that I have heard many of us say, and I feel very strongly about. However, I have also heard many of us some things in our lives are better since our cancer came along.
For no apparent reason, except maybe I am working on my Faith and in finding reasoning for what appears to have no reason, I started to think about my life and what I DO have that I know I wouldn’t have without cancer. I felt the need to share this with you all, as you truly are family. I’m sorry if I sound too happy or upbeat for anyone regarding this issue, but as I started to think about this, the list became truly amazing to me.
1. First and by far most.. my daughter. She would not be here, had I not been diagnosed the first time around. I was in a pretty casual relationship with a guy that lived in England half the time, and here half the time. He had no desire to get serious, and neither did I really. Then, we found out I had cancer. He said he would not go back to England or leave my side until I was through treatment. At the time, I thought that would be only the typical “short” treatment”, then he would be off and we would go back to seeing each other when we could. Instead of that happening, I got pregnant (condoms don’t ALWAYS work..;)
2. Obviously my other half. He had no idea what he was getting into when he said he would stay by my side until I was “through” this. I haven’t gotten “through” it yet. Instead of that happening, we’ve fallen very much in love and have a beautiful daughter. We are the best of friends and without him, I have no idea where I would be or how I would survive.
3. My dream home. We decided when I was diagnosed the second time, it was time to start living our dreams. So, we moved to a beautiful acreage in a smaller town away from the city. We are raising the dogs we always wanted to and are able to buy our daughter a pony for her birthday this February.
4. Perspective. I now have such a clear idea of what is important and what is not. I haven’t had an argument, at least not a real one with one person in my life since the day I was diagnosed. Everything is silly and little in the big picture when we are faced with this diagnosis. Instead of arguing, I make sure I tell everyone, friends, family, etc. that I love them. And I mean I tell them every TIME I talk to them. I’m the kind of girl that used to not say those words. Maybe to my mom..that was it.
5. Appreciation. I’ve learned to truly appreciate every good moment, and even some of the bad moments that I have. Like today for instance.. I’ve had the house to myself all day long. Old Erin would have felt compelled to clean, work, etc. I did a tiny amount of that, then decided I would rather lie around on the couch and watch soaps, movies and be lazy. That is what I did instead. My dogs were playing outside chasing each other around the yard and I could see it from where I was. Made me laugh and appreciate how simple things are to them. The weather is refreshing, lets all act like pups and forget everything else. So, then I did the same… Went and through the ball for them, let them jump on me.. even though that is against the “rules” and spoiled them each one by one. Last night, one of my bad moments, my fever was high, I couldn’t stop shivering, while I shivered I ached all over, my liver hurt, my bones hurt, etc. Steve came in and put another blanket on me, brought me a sprite which always seems to help my fever and got in bed and just held me until the shivering stopped, and told me over and over that he loved me and that it was ok. THAT, I appreciated.
6. A strong bond with my family. I speak with each member of my family, if not every day, then at least every other. My mom and I always did talk a lot, but not my dad and I, or my brother. Dad was pretty hard on us growing up, so I’ve never felt all that close to him.. He worked a lot, traveled a lot, etc. Now… he calls me every day to say he loves me and to check in with me. When we do get to see each other, which isn’t near enough, he rubs my back, lets me cry on my shoulder…cries on mine and tells me how much he wishes he could fix his little girl. My brother will call me now just to tell me stories about his daughter, or his work day, or whatever… sometimes for no other reason then to give me a hard time about something, but he does make sure he calls. At first… I had a hard time with that. I thought, sheesh these people are only talking to me because I’m sick. I got over my pride and decided, so what? Now that they are, are relationships are so enriched, that I think they would call even if I wasn’t.
7. Learned how to accept help. I’ve always been the kind of girl that has to take care of everything for myself. Now I’ve learned that letting others take care of me is not only ok, but necessary. When people ask if there is something they can do, I tell them the truth, rather than smiling and saying “I don’t think so”.
8. Religion. While I’ve never been very religious, and still have my questions and am not completely sure where I stand, I have opened my heart to God and can tell you, I feel better. I don’t know if the words coming out of me right now, would be if it wasn’t for that. I’ve joined a wonderful church who’s members bring us meals, even if we can’t come to service, offer to take Kayleigh when we need a hand, and just generally make us feel welcome in this town where we know feel people.
9. Learned who real friends are. Those that can’t handle this diagnosis, abandoned ship a long time ago. Some of them really surprised me. Others, that I thought I was only casual acquaintances with, have become near and dear. Our new neighbors here bring us meals, take care of animals if we have to be out of town, or in the hospital, etc. They take our daughter for a few hours here and there to let me rest if Steve isn’t here. They pick fresh fruits and veggies and bring them to us. One of our neighbors does upholstery, etc. He took some old comforters and cut them in half and restiched them to make new doggy beds for our four legged family members. Another neighbor makes curtains, toys, etc. and has made a giant turtle for Kayleigh and is making curtains for our living room.
10. Learned to spend money on something we want once in awhile, rather than to save it all, or pay only medical bills, etc. We bought a new flat screen tv that is hanging on the wall. Now that we are watching so many more movies since I’m spending more time on the couch than before, we bought it..and didn’t even feel guilty. I’m also paying for a massage every week or two. Before, I would go once every few months. I’ve decided they feel too good and are so great for my quality of life, I will find a way to budget them in more often.
What is amazing, is I could go on and on and on…. the sunsets, the thunderstorms, the flowers I never would have noticed previously, etc. But I’ve already rambled too much. While I’m not always happy, not always positive, in fact, not feeling great right now and will probably have to take a pill for pain soon. I often get sad thinking I probably won’t be here long, etc. But mostly… mostly…. I focus on the above. I’m a kinder, more loving, more helpful person. I lend a hand whenever I can, and seem to get that back 10 -fold. I love more than I’ve ever loved, and feel that coming back in surreal amounts. In the big picture, I mean the really really big picture… life is good. Diagnosis aside… life is good. I am living the life I’ve always wanted to live, and I plan on living it for as long as I can.
So a gift? Maybe not? A very well learned lesson in life? Absolutely.
Anyway, for those that have read this entire thing… thanks for listening. I didn’t intend to go on so long.
Love you all….