What you’re about to read isn’t typical of this blog. I’m angry and I’m sad. You’ve been warned.
Fuck COPD and Parkinson’s and ALS and every other killer disease. But today, fuck cancer most of all. Cancer robs its victims of their identity, their dignity and their spirit. It’s relentless and cruel. So today, fuck you cancer.
You probably didn’t know Kerry Weaver but maybe you have a Kerry Weaver in your life. It devastates me to use the past tense for Kerry, but cancer killed her yesterday. It arrived less than two years ago, receded for a while and then came back with a vengeance. Her death was too soon, too painful and a reminder that cancer doesn’t discriminate. It doesn’t care who you are or how much good you bring to everyone around you.
Kerry was the sunniest person I’ve ever known. She saw the best in everything and everyone. On mornings before she went in for ongoing, full-head radiation, her Facebook posts pointed out beautiful sunshine or chirping birds. She didn’t moan about her fate. She looked for something good to focus on.
I met Kerry because she worked for Derek in the annual World of Motorcycles Expo. Everybody loved her. She radiated warmth and was a great listener. She had an infectious laugh. Kerry and I would play good-cop-bad-cop when it came to collecting rent from vendors at the show. People responded more to her, the good cop. She used to work in guest services in hotels and then became a Personal Support Worker. She’d tell me stories of mishaps with elderly patients that would make me want to run for the hills. But she loved helping helpless people get through their day and felt it was a privilege, despite being well aware of the many problems with the long-term-care system. Her attitude was that the patients still deserved the best care she could give them. She was incredibly kind to my father any time she saw him. She could make you laugh no matter the circumstances.
Years ago, Kerry and I decided we were going to launch a low-budget, hopefully-sponsored TV show together. We drew up a proposal and scheduled a meeting with a production company. They loved our idea. Later, they sent us an estimate for about $120,000 to produce the pilot with no help to find sponsorship or get it aired. I recently found those documents and remembered how hard we laughed at that number, which was impossible for us to handle.
One Saturday morning she called and asked what I was up to. “Pulling grape vines out of the back yard”, I replied. Most people would have thought, gee, I was hoping we could do something fun. Not Kerry. She said, “Do you have an extra pair of gloves? I’m coming over!” And that’s what we did for most of the day. We pulled decades-old, stubborn roots and vines out of the back yard. She made it easier and fun. At one point, after pulling mightily on a thick root that wouldn’t give way, she landed on her butt in a fit of laughter. We got filthy and exhausted. She never wanted to quit.
Over the years there were lunches and teas and when she started selling Keep Collective jewellery, I became a customer. Sometimes we just texted for a few months and then picked up right where we left off. Derek always lit up in her presence. She had a kind of subtle magnetism that made you want her around. She said “I love you” easily and often.
Cancer extinguished her bright light and my world, the world of all who knew her, will never be quite as sunny again. She barely complained and on a rare occasion when she mentioned discomfort she’d apologize for it. That’s how we knew the pain was excruciating – if she mentioned it at all. Cancer, and the chemo, radiation, drugs and surgeries all radically changed her looks but not her disposition. She leaves her son, Jeff, who will always be family to us, and her boyfriend Steve, who also became part of the bike show family. Fuck you cancer. And fuck right off.