Gone from Our Sight

Editor’s Note: This post was written by our Marketing Manager, Rebecca Anderson.

We recently learned that another of the nine beautiful women who attended our first Metastatic Breast Cancer Retreat last April has passed away. It’s been just one year and now three of the attendees are no longer with us. This news was a heart-crushing reminder of the relentless nature of Stage 4 breast cancer. Our blog series last year defined metastatic breast cancer as “cancer that will be a part of your life…for the rest of your life.”

As we learned of yet another woman gone too soon, our friend and retreat visionary, Lillie Shockney, uplifted us with this poem by Henry Van Dyke:

I am standing upon the seashore.
A ship at my side spreads her white sails to the morning breeze
and starts for the blue ocean.
She is an object of beauty and strength,
and I stand and watch until at last she hangs
like a speck of white cloud
just where the sea and sky come down to mingle with each other.
Then someone at my side says,
“There she goes!”

Gone where?

Gone from my sight … that is all.
She is just as large in mast and hull and spar

as she was when she left my side
and just as able to bear her load of living freight
to the place of destination.
Her diminished size is in me, not in her.
And just at the moment
when someone at my side says,
“There she goes!”

There are other eyes watching her coming …
and other voices ready to take up the glad shout …
“Here she comes!”

We hope for the day metastatic breast cancer will be eradicated and no more lives will be lost to this terrible disease. Yet, for now, these verses remind us that while a person’s body may be overcome by cancer, her impact in our lives is never overcome. As I reflect on the three hopeful women from last year’s retreat who’ve since passed away, I still remember their serene smiles, their honest revelations about their diagnoses, their fears about the future, and their wishes that their loved ones wouldn’t have to suffer in losing them. I only spent 48 hours with them, but in that time I heard their laughs, received their hugs, and was inspired by their joy and hope in the midst of their fears.  If these women’s sails still loom so large in my own thoughts, how much more must each of them remain “an object of beauty and strength” in the hearts of her loved ones?

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