Inspirational Life Lessons: How to Live & Die

This is a hard post to write. Last weekend I had a joyous Thanksgiving with my very large family.

The next morning, I joined another family to mourn and celebrate an exceptional woman. Her name was Peggy and she died at age 66 from ovarian cancer.

Peggy and I served on the Pathways Women’s Cancer Teaching Project, but I didn’t know her well. In March, I was lucky to hear her tell her story. Her talk was deeply moving and I will never forget it and our conversation after she spoke. (Read the blog post inspired by our March meeting here.)

What we shared that day was all about cancer. That’s why we were there. But even though Peggy was dying, as her family and friends made clear, she was always much more than her cancer.

Peggy lived the last five and a half years of her life as she had always lived, with grace, courage, commitment and strength. She was an inspiring, warm, happy, optimistic and giving person. She never complained and she treasured each moment with her husband of 44 years, their three children and son-in-law, and her family and friends. She traveled, served the community, worked and enjoyed life’s pleasures.

Peggy was a human being facing dying, loneliness, denial and long goodbyes. But, her hope wasn’t invested in “beating cancer.” It was invested in living “the Perfect Moment” while she was here. Each person who spoke during her service told of at least one Perfect Moment they had shared with Peggy. As I listened, I realized my life was full of Perfect Moments too. Hadn’t I just spent an entire day with 27 of my most favorite people in the world celebrating Thanksgiving?

In how she lived and faced dying, Peggy’s example will be an inspiration to me always.

Survival > Existence,





Marie 's picture

A beautiful tribute to a friend

Oh that we all could live our lives this way Debbie.. thank you for sharing this beautiful tribute to your friend and my condolences on your loss.


Debbie's picture

I Wish I Had Known Peggy Better


Thank you so much. Her friends and family inspired me with the moving tribute they paid Peggy at the memorial service. For myself, my greatest loss is that I didn’t get to know her better.

Survival > Existence,



Pinkunderbelly 's picture

My mom died from ovarian

My mom died from ovarian cancer at age 67. She was very much like your friend Peggy–lived life out loud despite the cancer and didn’t waste time feeling sorry for herself. It sounds like Peggy was a wonderful lady, which is evident by your loving tribute to her. I’m very sorry for your loss.



Debbie's picture

So Sorry to Hear You Lost Your Mom to this Horrible Disease


Thank you and I’m so sorry you lost your mom to this horrible disease. It sounds like your mom and Peggy would have liked each other very much. We’re better people having had such marvelous women in our lives, despite the pain of losing them.

Survival > Existence,




Terri's picture

Thank You

Thank you for sharing this raw and beautiful post. I hate the cancer steals people away from us too soon, but I’m grateful to read about the notion of a Perfect Moment today. I’m also so thankful of all of the people cancer brought into my life and all of the perfect moments I’ve shared with each of you. Thank you for continuing to support my audacious side. Sending you massive hugs. Terri xo



Debbie's picture

The Yin and Yang of Cancer


That’s exactly how I feel. Grateful for the many, many people and experiences cancer has brought into my life and saddened by its losses. Like anything else, it’s the yin and yang of life and all we can do is accept, love and press on. Hugs to you and good luck with all your adventures!

Survival > Existence,


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