Monday, November 23, 2009


Okay, I'm just going to get the saddest stuff out of the way first.

Above is a photo of girls I went to elementary school with. We've recently been in touch on Facebook, which has been a total delight. That's Renee Bourdess up there, third from the right. We were best friends in Kindergarten and 1st grade -- Mrs. Aasland called us the "Sunshine Twins," which I think has stayed with me as one of the best identity builders ever. Other girls in there include Renee Walrath, second from right, who was a cheerleader in 7th grade and loved MTV so much she could dance like anybody she wanted to emulate -- Michael Jackson, Cyndi Lauper, Boy George. And there's Janell Stussy, second from left, always the pretty tomboy, and Cheryl Anspach, third from the left, everybody's friend and someone who could always be counted on.

But someone is missing. Missing, missing, missing. And it's Shannon Boone. Shannon Boone, who was so theatrical and brilliant and passionate. Mrs. McNeil chose her to play Imogene Herdman in our 3rd grade Gifted Class's rendition of The Best Christmas Pageant Ever -- possibly because Shannon was scrappy and effusive and loud, but probably mostly because Shannon was smart enough to know how to play Imogene with edge and heart -- because Imogene Herdman had to be the character the audience could see as the most powerfully changed by the Christmas story, a hard knock kid playing mother to the baby Jesus.

I moved away from these girls in 7th grade, but I've often thought of Shannon -- and how she could drive me crazy with her loudness, her sensitivity, our mutual jealousies over our favorite friend Dawn Looker -- and I've wondered what became of her.

And I'm sorry to report that Shannon died of breast cancer. It makes me so sad to write that. Here's what Renee Bourdess told me in an email -- and it's absolutely heartbreaking:

Hi Anjie-
Yes, we did walk for Shannon. She died of breast cancer 5 years ago this January. It is horribly sad, I actually have goosebumps as I type it.

Where do I start.......Shannon was married and had just gotten pregnant with her first baby. She went in for her first OB appt. and they found a lump in her breast. Did a biopsy and turned out to be Stage 4 breast cancer. At that point, it had already spread. She chose to do chemotherapy and fought a valiant battle for 13 months until she passed. She did not end up having the baby. :( It's an awful, heart wrenching story.....she was only 34 years old. Ugh.

Her parents had a memorial service for her at Franklin Pierce and that's where I ran into all those gals you see in the photo. A lot of them I hadn't seen since high school or shortly after. So we decided to meet for dinner and we all showed up and have been doing "girls night" once a month ever since, or at least we try. That's how we came to be the Pinks.......

As sad as it was to lose Shannon, we all feel very blessed that out of her death came the reconnecting of all of us and the development of amazing friendships. It was such an honor to do the walk in memory of her. Her mom walked with us and she is one of the most amazing women I know. We have all become close to her and she is such an inspiration.

Whew, goodness, as you can tell this is very close to my heart!

So, those are the Pinks up there, including Shannon's brave mother (on the far right) and that's Shannon's story.

My pal Karen's family lost their Aunt Mary last year to breast cancer. This year the family Walked for Hope in honor of her:

Here are a couple friends who walked the Avon 3-Day in honor of survivors and living fighters.

My friend Amy Vattuone, third from the right and 4 months pregnant here, walked with a group of her girlfriends in Seattle -- calling themselves something like the Aereola Borealis Team:

And my dear friend from the dental school years, Shari Michaud, (at right, below) walked with her sister Julie in honor of Julie's current fight against breast cancer. I've posted about Shari's sister/endeavor before, if you'd like to read her story.

Here's Shari's report:

Last weekend Nov 13-15 was the Three day walk. After 60 miles we were tired and sore but hope was alive! It was an amazing experience and I feel so humble to have such wonderful friends and family that made it possible for my Sister Julie and I to participate...

It meant the world to us to be a part of something so personal and to have the chance to fight Breast Cancer as sisters! There was a moment at the closing ceremonies where they honored the survivors and my sister Julie was standing there so strong and so brave.

It was emotionally overwhelming. I never want to lose her and I believe in a cure! She is an incredible mom, sister, wife, and friend. I know Breast Cancer and Cancer have taken so many loved ones and caused so much pain. However, last weekend they were able to raise over 4.1 million dollars in the fight to cure cancer. I know with God a miracle can happen!
Think Pink.


Danigirl said...

So moving, Anj.
Thanks for sharing.

Love you.

KUrlie said...

I'm sorry about Shannon, Anj - how great to reconnect with those pals and yet how sad to find out about such a loss.

Thanks for the tribute post and for including my fam.