BACK IN 2017, Ronni Bennett was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. I started reading her blog a few years before that on the recommendation of Dave Delaney. Ronni passed away on Friday, October 30, 2020. She was 79.
Ronni wrote about her cancer as "a shadow chasing behind you constantly." Her blog's tagline is "What it's really like to get old." She died within three years of her cancer diagnosis.
I'm worried about cancer because both of my parents died of it. I'm now as old as my dad was when he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Age is actually the greatest risk factor, according to Cancer.net, and 60 percent of those with cancer are as old as I am. My age cohort also makes up 60 percent of survivors.
I got a glimpse into the daily life of a cancer patient by reading Ronni Bennett's posts. She openly shared her good days and bad, what she was doing with her bucket list and what it's like to be the truly afraid.
The poem To an Aged Bear, written by Native American novelist, poet and Pulitzer Prize winner N. Scott Momaday, spoke to Ronni.
Hold hard this infirmity.
It defines you. You are old.
Now fix yourself in summer,
In thickets of ripe berries,
And venture toward the ridge
Where you were born. Await there
The setting sun. Be alive
To that old conflagration
One more time. Mortality
Is your shadow and your shade.
Translate yourself to spirit;
Be present on your journey.
Keep to the trees and waters.
Be the singing of the soil.
Just before she died, Ronni said, "When you get here, it is really nice. I am not afraid."
If you're a regular reader of my blog, you'll remember me writing about several other people I knew who died of cancer.
The first person I met blogging through cancer was Emma Candy. Emma (above) would visit my blog early in the morning after a restless night. Her blog was called Candygirl. The last item she wrote about online was about popsicles. Emma Candy died of ovarian cancer on Thursday 5th February, 2004, aged 36 years. I bought a copy of The Guardian in a Kilkenny news agent just to read her obit.
Watching Cancer Through Blogging, January 16, 2012.
[Bernie Goldbach teaches creative media for business on the Clonmel Digital Campus in County Tipperary, Ireland.]