Holly Butcher: her letter goes viral after she dies at age 27

Many thanks to Cynthia for posting about a letter written by a young Australian woman, Holly Butcher, who died on January 4.  She had Ewing’s sarcoma, a rare type of bone cancer that usually affects young people and children.

I was quite touched by parts of it, so I decided to write a quick post. Before I forget, here’s the link to an Australian news article about Holly (and you can get to and read her full letter there, too): goo.gl/sLEYd8

In Holly’s letter, I recognized some of the feelings I myself have/have had…For instance, the irritation that I feel at times because my girlfriends don’t want to turn off their cellphones while we are playing cards. These weekly get-togethers, which last a couple of hours or so, are an important moment for all four of us. It’s therapeutic, too, for all of us. We chat up a storm, we laugh, we are silly, we eat homemade goodies, we make fun of one another, and so on. It’s OUR FUN TIME TOGETHER. But it can also be our serious time whenever one of us has a problem to talk about and try to solve. Before the cellphone era, there were no interruptions. But now the cellphones have to be turned on (not mine, by the way. Mine is always OFF).

It’s all the more annoying when I consider that, just a few years ago, those cellphones didn’t even exist…Our generation grew up with rotary dial phones, which then became cordless phones. Cellphones entered our lives in the late 1990s (if I am not mistaken). Before then, we weren’t connected to the world every single nanosecond of the day…but hey, we managed to survive anyway. So why is it that nowadays we are obsessively and almost physically attached to those little, annoying devices (useful in emergencies, I’ll grant you that)?

Anyway…Sorry for the rant. That was just a thought that popped into my head as I was reading the part about girlfriends having their hair done and so on.

Like Holly, I have always been frustrated that certain subjects are taboo. Death, she writes, is treated as a taboo subject, as though it will never happen to us, and that is certainly true.

Cancer is also taboo. Here in Italy people always die after “a long illness” or “an incurable illness” and similar euphemisms. Very rarely does someone mention the dreaded word, “cancro.” Even now, in the 21st century! Whenever I hear that a friend’s relative has died after a long illness, I always ask “was it cancer?” If the answer is yes, and it almost always is, then I ask, “what type of cancer was it?”

I’m not afraid to use that word anymore. But many years ago, the situation was quite different. When I was first told I had multiple myeloma, I thought I was going to die at any minute. But if cancer hadn’t been such a taboo subject throughout my life, I’m sure I would have had an easier time dealing with this terrible diagnosis.

And that’s my point here, really: we have to bring these topics out into the open. Of course, not ALL the time, duh!  I mean, who wants to talk about cancer and/or death all the time? Yikes! Not I, for sure!!!  🙂 

Anyway, I haven’t died (yet), and, as the  years have gone by with no great shake-ups, I have followed some of the suggestions mentioned in Holly’s letter…For example, Stefano and I have become birdwatchers (although we still say “hey, look, there’s a BIRD over there!” hehehe, still rather terrible at identifying birds, we are…), we travel as much as possible (not lately, but I hope that will change soon). And so on.

And then there’s the part about stopping to watch/listen to Nature…to cuddle with your pet (a dog, in her case…cats, in mine)…to listen, really listen to music…to eat the cake – zero guilt…to say no to things you really don’t want to do…

Oh yes, indeed. I do try…although life does get in the way sometimes, as it has recently when I’ve had to deal with a few stressful personal items. But…life goes on, and I’m certainly not a “whinger.” Uh-uh. No way. I deal with the stress, do my best, and get on with it!

In sum, there are a lot of really good suggestions in this letter, and that is why I decided to post this link, even though, yes, it’s always sad, very sad, to read about someone’s death, particularly that of a young person.

But her letter is actually very upbeat, as you will see, and that’s how she wants to be remembered…as will I, too, someday!


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