Last week, I wrote the Last Word column that appears on the last page of each issue of CiN Weekly. The archived version online will disappear soon, so here's what I wrote:
You never think it'll happen to someone you know
A few weeks ago, on the same day that Cincinnati and the nation mourned Matt Maupin, I attended a memorial service for another young person whose life was cut short all too soon.
Meredith, one of my sister's best friends from high school, died on April 22. She was 25 years old. She left behind a husband, a family and dozens of best friends.
I asked my sister to share her memories of her friend for this column. Here's what she had to say
"Meredith was a people magnet. Everyone wanted to be her friend! Freshman year of high school we played volleyball together and she said to me one day after practice, 'I think we should be friends.' ... She and her dad took out her new group of friends from freshman year on their boat to water ski. I remember how patient and helpful Meredith was letting us all learn how to water ski. She let us all take multiple turns and let us try until we got it. Each time I'd fall in the water, she'd tell me how close I was, and how I'd get it the next time.
"That is what I remember about Meredith. Letting everyone feel so special - as though you were her best friend. She wanted everyone to feel welcome, and wanted everyone to be a part of everything that made her so happy. She glowed, and she embraced everyone as though they were a part of her family."
Meredith died of colon cancer. For years, she went to the doctors with digestive complaints, but no one thought to order a colonoscopy because people as young as her just don't get colon cancer. Except when they do. By the time it was discovered, the cancer had spread to other organs.
After her diagnosis, Meredith lived just under two years. During this time, she decided to establish a foundation to promote early detection of colon cancer, and now her family is continuing this work with the Meredith's Miracle Colon Cancer Foundation. Its mission includes making young people, their families and medical professionals aware of symptoms that could serve as a first warning, as well as taking steps to have insurance companies pay for colonoscopies earlier in life.
A colonoscopy is the only method of cancer detection that can also serve to stop the cancer in its tracks. The camera is equipped with a wire loop that cuts out suspicious polyps, with the aid of an electric charge, before they can turn into the awful things that eat people alive. This is why insurers generally allow older people to have the procedure for free.
If you've been going to doctors with the same digestive symptoms over and over again, ask them if they wouldn't consider recommending a colonoscopy. You never know what they might be overlooking.
Kelly Hudson, a copy editor for CiN Weekly, hopes you'll visit www.caringbridge.org/visit/meredith to learn more about Meredith's story and the Meredith's Miracle Colon Cancer Foundation.