Patricia Rae Cashman Andrus, Lafayette, LA

My mom dedicated her life to helping others overcome their grief. She was instrumental in creating The Grief Center (later renamed Healing House) in our hometown of Lafayette, LA, a non-profit organization. It is a safe place for children to express their pain over a lost parent, sibling or caregiver. Her own children’s grief in our early lives was the inspiration for this wonderful place.

Mom’s work with grief touched and helped so many people. She was diagnosed with stage 4c February 2009. For 18 months she battled fiercely but lost the fight on August 20, 2010 just an hour before her 39 wedding anniversary. I was honored to be with her in those last moments.

Mom’s work continues in the hands of Healing House. So many people that she had helped over the years donated memorial gifts to her favorite charities. Children and families are still being helped by her.

She was a wonderful grandmother, mother, sister, wife, friend, daughter and educator. I am grateful for the time we had with her. She was deeply loved and appreciated.

My family has really pushed other women to be very vigilant in paying attention to their bodies, to have those odd random symptoms checked out and to get second opinions (and more), to be an active member in their own health care. Maybe it can save a life.

I know I am one of my mother’s greatest accomplishments and I wear it with pride every day. She has taught us all that life is short and there is no room for regret or remorse. We love and miss her every day.