I met Susan Niebur for the first time at BlogHer’09 in Chicago, but I already knew who she was – blogger, mom, astrophysicist, and cancer survivor. When Susan was diagnosed with inflammatory breast cancer (IBC) – the least common and most deadly form of the disease – in 2007, fellow bloggers rallied around, forming Team Whymommy to support her in her battle against it. She won…that time. She had a recurrence of the cancer in 2010, and in early 2011, she learned that it was back once more. Susan fought hard–and never fought alone–but the cancer dealt the last blow. She left a husband, two young sons, and an unforgettable impression on many, many people; as her husband put it in that post, “She is survived by her family, friends, achievements, and the indelible marks she made on people around the world.”
“Friends engaged me on FB and twitter too, talking about it, asking why I felt left out, and letting me know that the whole meme was staged by some women in the midwest urging awareness of breast cancer.
Aren’t we aware by now, people? Don’t we know that we need to understand our own bodies, take notice of changes in one breast but not the other, and call the doctor when we see that something’s changed? Don’t we know that we need to talk to our doctor about thermography or mammograms? Don’t we know?…
…(T)his was ostensibly an effort to raise awareness of breast cancer — but one in which breast cancer survivors themselves could not participate, and were reminded (as if we needed a reminder) that we didn’t need bras anymore, that most basic undergarment of women everywhere, that symbol of sexuality, for the simple reason that we had already sacrificed our breasts in a hail mary attempt to keep the rest of our bodies from dying of cancer.”
“All that survives after our death are publications and people. So look carefully after the words you write, the thoughts and publications you create, and how you love others. For these are the only things that will remain.”