Bad Right Breast

I've Always Hated My Right Breast!

Amy and her Army February 25, 2014

Filed under: cancer,in memorium — Bad Right Breast @ 10:39 pm

I only just read the news less than an hour ago, and immediately began to cry.  Instantly aware, my twins ask simultaneously, “Why are you crying?” I couldn’t form the words.  How do you explain to a couple of five year olds that you’re crying for someone you’ve never met, and really barely even knew.  “A friend of a friend passed away this afternoon,” is all I could muster.

I admit I never would have known who she was.  One of my high school summer stock friends, whom I truly love with all my heart – Mia Laudato, reached out to me less than a year ago.  It starts for me there.  One of her best friends, Amy Furman Ames, has just been diagnosed with, you’ve guessed it, breast cancer.  She’s weeks away from turning 40, has a dear son just entering double digits, and she is beyond beautiful gorgeous with an amazing smile that never wears away.  Amy and I message each other over the course of several months.  She reads my blogs, I tell her stories about constipation problems.  You know, the normal cancer talk.  She makes my Mia smile, so I know she’s a special person.  We keep in touch through the summer, but the fall and now winter season isn’t so kind to her.

I’ve said it many times before.  Cancer knows no prejudice.  And EVERY PERSON’s experience with cancer is different.  It’s make-up, diagnosis, treatment, reaction to treatment and recovery.  I know this.  I say it all the time.  Based on the sheer fact that all of our genetic make-up is unique, our cancer is unique.  My story isn’t your mom’s story, your brothers, or even yours.  And it for damn sure isn’t Amy’s.  Amy’s story is truly beyond unbelievable, just as unbelievable as the woman and life she embodies.

The best thing Mia could have done for her best friend is create a private group ‘Amy’s Army’ for each person who has been touched in someway by this incredible creature to help her and her family fight through this.  And boy did she ever fight.  Ready?  Here’s her whirlwind told along the way by her brother:  diagnosed with breast cancer less than a year ago.  After numerous consultations &  chemo treatments, she has a mastectomy in early November with no cancer found in the lymph nodes. Less than a month later while still recovering from the surgery, Amy has a series of seizures, in which they discover she has brain cancer.  Days later, a second surgery removes the brain tumor.  Recovery is slow but steady, and she fights every step of the way.  Weeks later, she suffers from headaches and told that the area where the brain tumor was removed is now inflamed and possibly infected.  But when they go in for a 3rd surgery (in which they were prepared to permanently remove a piece of her skull), they find a 2nd larger tumor has now grown in the site of the first.  Stereotactic (focused) radiation treatment, the only type of treatment, is moved up.  She suffers temporary paralysis on one side, continued seizures, feeding tube inserted.  Starts to recover once again, moving back and forth from the ICU to hospice to a step-down facility, back to hospice.  Seems so simple putting it down into words, but this goes on all over the course of several months.

But at the same time, each and every person that visits this astounding being while in the hospital, says the same exact thing – she’s upbeat, happy, smiling, full of life, making jokes, so positive.  Two weeks ago, she is having visitors try on her fabulous wigs.  Never would you have thought that this was a woman fighting for her life.  A woman whose story told over and over again reads the same by each person who encounters her.  She is the epitome of beauty, inside and out.

Another factor I mention about cancer, is that EVERYONE knows cancer.  Either a family member, loved one, friend, child, sibling, or even yourself has gone through cancer.  When I’d take the subway and ‘look’ like cancer (you know, that bald, sickly look, with no eyebrows, the no eyebrows really did it), I’d get stares.  And soon realizing, that because I ‘looked’ like cancer, I reminded people of their cancer.  I say this for Amy’s caretakers.  Her mother, brother, family, friends, neighbors, co-workers, and countless more.  Amy’s story is now their story.

Amy passed away this afternoon, very peacefully and in no pain, with her family by her side.  Their lives will never be the same.  And yes, FUCK cancer for taking an irreplaceable person from them.  If any of them could have taken her pain away, I know they would have without hesitation.  Just as my Penelope climbs in my lap, wipes away my tears, and says, ‘I’m sorry your friend of a friend died.  That really stinks.’  Yes, sweetie.  It certainly does.

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29 Responses to “Amy and her Army”

  1. Laura Tessier Torres Says:

    This was written so well! I was Amy & Jacobs neighbor for 5 or so years. Our children were friends,she especially loved my daughter! She was so girly! We didn’t keep in touch after their initial visit to our new home.I wish we had. Today my heart aches for Jacob,her parents and brother. I’m angry her life was cut off in her prime.I will continue to pray for peace & healing for all that new & loved Amy! Cancer Sucks

  2. Wow. not sure where to go with this except to say that you are BOTH amazing, incredibly powerful women. You, with your story that touches my heart and makes me feel your pain and admiration and courage, and Amy for everything she was and everything she’s left behind (especially the good). Thank you so much for sharing.

  3. Rhonda Says:

    So beautifully written … Amy was a friend of a friend to me as well. I heard about her story as I was going thru my own battle with ovarian cancer a few months ago. I also heard how upbeat and positive she was handling it all … it makes me so sad to hear all that she had to endure. Such a strong and shining example to us all. Love to all of her family and friends.

  4. Robin Says:

    Amy went to my high school. While I didn’t know her personally, my friends are posting their sympathies on Facebook.Thank you for sharing her story (and some of yours). This is a wonderful post. I’m so sorry for your loss.

  5. Jennifer Strasz Says:

    I met Amy at my husbands high school reunion several years ago. She was absolutely beautiful and so much fun. She lit up the room with her warm smile. I am so sad for her family and they will be in our prayers. Rest in peace sweet girl.

  6. This was so beautifully written. I found your post through a friend of Amy’s. Cancer does suck. My father is battling Multiple Myeloma and so far, is winning. I, myself, had a brush with Melanoma last March, but thankfully it was caught in time. I pray for everyone who has been affected by cancer. It does not discriminate.

  7. Tanya Says:

    Thank you.

  8. Dick Stone Says:

    Yvette, I am so sorry so very sorry. Though, I’ve been there, that doesn’t help a lot. What can I do, probably not much. I just think of you the time. If there is anything you need or I can do, just let me know.

    Much love to you and to Billy and to your grandson.

    and I need a hug!


  9. George Novick Says:

    There is no need to file a suit against CANCER because it does not discriminate. No matter your ethnicity, your sexual orientation, your color, your religion, your lack of religion, your age, your socio-economic status, your fame or lack of it, your age, your gender, your contributions to betterment of society, your being a criminal or being a peace loving individual CANCER attacks so many of us and kills many of those we love and adore. CANCER is an equal opportunity attacker and killer.

    Yes, I am a survivor as my wife is (2x) but that is because of the skill of our doctors, our constant vigilance and a great deal of luck. A lot of luck. It is beyond my comprehension why this disease has not been eradicated as other diseases have. Could it be for a lack of funding, we prefer to spend trillions of dollars on useless wars that have killed so many. We prefer to pour millions upon millions into political campaigns that enriches the media and more often than not gives us despicable representatives. Isn’t it time to do an about face and spend tenfold or twentyfold more on research and testing so that we don’t have to see more parents bury their children.

    • oh George, how right you are! It is truly astounding the increased cases of cancer in the past decade. And dumbfounding how it seems to take the most amazing of individuals, while countless others it never so much as touches.

      And as for research and funding. Yes, I agree. I’m ever so hesitant to support the pink ribbon, walks, runs for CURE, since so much of that money goes to admin fees and marketing/sponsor dollars. Within the ‘fundraising’ guidelines, dollars spent on ‘awareness’ can be spent a number of ways, ‘i.e that banner at the finish line.

      In fact, the doctor who brought the drug Tamoxifen to the forefront as a preventative drug for recurring breast cancer, is the father of a college friend. He went to Congress in the 90’s and met with the President over it. The government took the findings and info from him and never gave him credit. To which he continue research. They just took it and made it what it is today. So much of politics get in the way of science, research and medicine.

  10. Amanda Says:

    She was an amazing person that I am so glad to have known. She will always be an inspiration to us all! Rest in peace Amy!

  11. Toni Curlin Says:

    Amy was an AMAZING friend, woman, mother, colleague and just an person. Talk about a room lighting up when she walked in – WOW – her smile and energy was contagious. We would talk about all the weddings and events we planned throughout the years – and laugh a lot! I will truly miss Amy. Rest in Peace and you are now lighting up Heaven forever! And I know you are watching over all of us. Love you girl!

  12. Kim Says:

    Hi, my son had cancer, leukemia at the age of three. He never cried, never complained, never was angry. All I saw was a happy little boy fighting for his life, yet enjoying every day. Through all my tears behind closed doors he is now cancer free and just turned thirteen. My heart goes out to you and her strength she had while she fought cancer. Cancer sucks…but positive and loving friends and family kept Amy going. Know she was loved. What a beautiful girl.

    • oh Kim, I would have to say your fight is the hardest by far. To see your child go through battling cancer, well, that’s got to be the hardest to deal with. Sending you love and warmth. Thank you for sharing!

  13. June Saler Says:

    HI. I am a cousin of Amy’s. She was an incredible person with a smile worth a million $$$. She should be alive right now! Such a beautiful, beautiful person. A wonderful, bubbly personality. I live in East Brunswick, NJ, where she lived originally. Her dad is my first cousin. I feel so sad for Scott, Yvette, Lenny and Ellen, and most of all her son, Jacob. This whole thing is so wrong. Good people….no GREAT people like Amy….deserve life.

  14. annebnyc Says:

    You are a friend of a friend. I am a friend via a dear colleague who lost a beloved daughter. Thank you for this, for your anger, your outrage.

  15. Bonnie Kulek Brill Says:

    So very sad to hear this. I knew Amy when I was young and slept over her house a few times. We had such a fun time eating Mushroom Barley soup, checking out her mom’s party decorations and having lots of laughs. She was such a nice girl. Although we lost touch for many years, I have many wonderful childhood memories with Amy. My deepest condolences to her family. Rest in peace Amy!

  16. Deidre Says:

    Beautiful tribute, thank you so much for writing it. I miss her joy.
    Amy’s Army will continue her legacy of selflessness and giving:):)

    Lots of love…..Deidre

  17. kim maldonado Says:

    Wow. . I am absolutely speechless, having just heard TODAY that Amy has passed away. I knew Amy for many, many years with a business relationship. Amy was truly a ray of sunshine, that you could not help but to form something more than just a business partnership, with her magnetic personalty. I also had the pleasure of meeting her precious son, who was clearly being raised by someone magnificent! I am so saddened by this news, and I pray that Amy rests in peace! May God bless all those that she left behind, and may he grant you the strength to always push forward, with the peace in your hearts, knowing that this was a very special lady that will not be forgotten.

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