Karen Kay Erickson, Denver, CO

Strength. Faith. Dignity. A beautiful fragility and vulnerability. November 8th, 2005. My mother was only 66 years old when we received the completely unexpected diagnosis of stage four ovarian cancer. Her leg had been swollen and she finally went to have a doctor look at it. She was immediately sent on a whirlwind round of ultrasounds, x-rays, and MRI’s. At 5:00 p.m. that same day we were given the results. She was living on her own after having raised six children as a stay-at-home mother and after having been wife to my father since she was eighteen. Dad was in long term care due to his diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease. She had learned how to do the things that Dad had taken care of her whole life. Their retirement, their golden years, had not turned out as planned. For five months, she battled the disease. She somehow managed it all. She continued to visit my dad. She went through eight hour drips of chemotherapy. She continued to live on her own. She turned to her faith, relied upon her unimaginable strength, displayed incredible dignity, and taught me about fragility and vulnerability. Her courage humbles me. She was a true woman of strength and beauty.