Nadine, it’s with a heavy heart that I’m writing this blog post, mere days after you left this world.
I smile thinking about the first time we connected. I had been following you on Instagram already and was introduced to you through email. I could already tell you were someone special by the sunny and warm way you wrote your emails, like the “Hi Lovely” that started each message. We first met in person at the Rethink office and everyone in the office was excited to meet you because you were basically a celebrity.
And your online persona totally held up in person. You were even more warm and loving, and always the best dressed with the best accessories. You immediately offered to help and was always up for all the ideas we had. At that first meeting I nervously asked you to lunch and was so relieved when you said yes. This was the start of our short but meaningful friendship. We talked non-stop about life, cancer and how to make this cancer world better. Your friendship made me a better person, a better advocate and a better friend. You made me think about life differently and helped me understand a bit better what it meant to have metastatic breast cancer. I will forever be grateful to you for your honesty, vulnerability and love.
When I think about you, I see a bright light that warms my heart. Your Instagram handle perfectly sums it up: Thrive to Shine. You did just that every day from your beauty (inside and out) and your comforting smile to your blog and Instagram posts that were both honest and gut wrenching but also elegantly written filled with hope, beauty and laughter. You had such a gift of seeing beauty in all the hard obstacles that were thrown at you. We could all benefit from following in your example. I will always remember you dancing in the hospital making other people smile. Even on your worst days you still genuinely asked how I was doing. One memory that comes to mind is when you attended a gala I was speaking at, on the day of a chemo infusion, to support me. It gave me strength to see you in the front row smiling at me even though I knew you were tired. Thank you, friend.
Nadine, you left your mark on the cancer community and especially the MBC community. After your own diagnosis, you became a fierce advocate for MBC educating people on why being your own health advocate is key. This was demonstrated through being a patient ambassador for Rethink and speaking on the panel last Fall at Rethink’s Lost in Translation: Addressing Gaps in Communication Between Cancer Patients and Health-Care Providers and the many stories you told. You were a voice for so many young women to demand answers when something in your body is not right, and that, yes, young women DO get breast cancer. There is no doubt that your story, and the many stories you wrote for Rethink’s blog, have helped countless other young women to feel less alone in this isolating disease. You bravely let us all into your life to see what living with MBC is really like. There were dark moments but you managed to always make them beautiful somehow.
I wish our friendship lasted longer but I will cherish calling you my friend. Thank you for inspiring all of us. I love you and I miss you already but your words and beauty will live on forever.