Rethink Remembers: Teva Harrison
It’s taken a little while to get to this tribute. I tend to procrastinate on things I do not want to do, and I really did not want to ever have to find the words for this. I wanted you to go on finding four-leaf clovers and being our metster muse forever. Yes, you were an incredibly talented artist and you were a muse, too. The daughters of Zeus had nothing on you for you were a muse for a much-needed movement. So, how does one find the right words to do you justice? Teva, you managed to be so magical and so real at the same time. Your impact? Both broad and deep. You made us think and you made us want to connect. And for all your community building and connecting and sharing and giving and loving you were such a great example of self-love and self-care. You showed that it was ok to ask for help.
At our 2015 Young and Metastatic Forum, you asked Rethink for help. You said organizations can provide stability and continuity for those creating a metastatic community and advocacy movement. The result was co-creating important and beautiful new resources and vital campaigns.
You occasionally asked for practical help, too. A simple shout out on social media for a lift to an appointment or a smoothie if someone was going to be in your hospital’s hood. Sometimes your ask was for simple understanding. Like the ask for space to process the news of disease progression, or letting people know you might not get back to questions right away.
I loved watching how you filled your (in-between) time and space, knowing you were living a condensed life. On one of your bucket list trips, travelling the globe with your love, David, you shared a decision to sit inside in a sunbeam and write instead of going out walking. The wisdom you shared was a benefit to all of us following along, regardless of what was going on in our lives. The one post that gave me such pause was on your five-year metastatic anniversary.
“I didn’t expect to live this long. And to still be *living*—traveling, making art and a new book and dinners and hugging the people I love around the world. I feel a bit lost today. So much was put into whether or not I’d make it here—I haven’t really planned on what to do now. How to set my next stretch goal for survival, what it means to continue to thrive, how that changes over time. So I am taking a bit of a time out…and going inward. I have a lot to think about. I’m so grateful to be here. Existentially grateful.”
Through all this we learned with you. We saw a beautiful example of how to live with love and with gratitude.
At our Advocacy Day at Queen’s Park last October you thanked me so many times. Your voice was almost completely gone from complications due to the toll of treatment, but you insisted on expressing your gratitude.
Thank you, Teva, for encouraging our team to do more and working with us to make real inroads. Thank you for helping so many young women with breast cancer, especially those living with metastatic disease, to see themselves in your art and to cope better. And thank you for inspiring millions of people who, until meeting you or reading your ground-breaking book or seeing you in a truly moving video, had no idea what the metastatic experience is like. You inspired them to take a moment to consider it. To learn. And to maybe help, too.
Teva, your loss shakes our community and it also drives our work forward. You made a beautiful contribution to our mission and to the world. We will remember you, always.
More memories from the community who loved you: