Image 4Last year was a very special Christmas Day. My best friend Li had metastatic breast cancer (MBC) and she had started hospice in her home. She had an extremely precious caregiver named Nora who I am still in touch with because she became part of our family. Li didn’t have any siblings and her parents were both deceased, so her best friends were her family, and I was so lucky to be one of them. Li’s disease was progressing and she was having difficulty walking so she needed the help of a walker.

Li wanted to make a special day for Christmas and invited Kathy, Joy and myself to come over to her apartment to celebrate the day. Li was so excited about getting everything ready. We all brought food over and the day before Nora helped her get the table set just the way Li wanted it so that we could all sit together for this great feast.

This was one of Li’s happiest days while being sick. She enjoyed working with Nora so everything was in the right place and LI was meticulous about the preparations. I got to Li’s apartment first and helped her out of bed, brushed her teeth, got her dressed, etc. Then when Kathy and Joy came over we started having our great meal. What meant so much was how we all knew it was our last Christmas with Li and she knew it too, but we were all in the moment.

IMG_3171.JPG - Version 2We took breaks in between the meal  because Li wanted to go through some of her things and share them with us.  We also went through some of her modeling photos when she was 16. She was a sensational model and she was even in Vogue. Joy brought back some “limoncello apéritif” from Italy and we had a set of four little glasses that we each toasted with. Li even had a sip although I know she couldn’t drink all of the drink. I now have those beautiful apéritif glasses and I treasure them with a great memory of that day.

I have to give Li credit. Even though each time she lost more mobility she accepted what was happening and bravely entered each new phase as she got to the end. The hospital bed was the hardest but she was terribly uncomfortable with her bloated tummy from the liver metastases and she realized that the movable bed really was the best thing. When she got in it she was so much more comfortable.

Because Christmas is coming again this year my mind is remembering a lot about the end of last year. I was supposed to go to my Mom’s for the holidays but because Li was starting hospice I just couldn’t leave her and I have the best mom in the world. She told me not to come home and stay with my friend who needed me.

That was another great thing about Li. She made me feel so good because I could help her. Helping others with breast cancer, early stage and any type of metastatic cancer helps me cope and feel empowered since I could do nothing to save anyone’s life, especially Li’s from cancer. One of the biggest reasons I am a patient advocate is so I can help others. That’s why I started my non-profit Advocates 4 Breast Cancer, so I can make a difference.

I am in the process of getting my site up and because it is so time-consuming, I am going to try to blog less so I can get the company up and running. It’s so great to have this blog and I find myself blogging when I am bursting with energy to write about something. This day with Li, Joy and Kathy was so special to us. Our friend was such a gift. Now I must make sure that my voice and work advocating helps others. While I am excited about the National Breast Cancer Coalition’s deadline 2020 to end breast cancer, there is so much else that needs to be done as an advocate and I can’t wait to get this important work moving. I owe it to all of my fearless friends out there and I promise to do my best to make a difference.happy_holidays_slider_900x300

I hope all of you have a lovely holiday and here’s to a wonderful 2013. I started this blog about six months ago, and I thank you so much for reading my posts, checking my daily online breast cancer newspaper, and having faith in me. I hope I can live up to your expectations.

14 thoughts on “Happy Holidays! – A Special Memory from Christmas Day 2011- Remembering Li Bailey

  1. What an inspirational post and great pictures of Li. I didn’t know she was a model.

    I’m sure it makes a huge difference at the end of life to have so much support around you. And it’s nice to see that Li did.

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    1. It was so great that Li wanted our help and for us to be there. She had such a fascinating life. She also was a designer at the Smithsonian. She was always very pretty but her modeling photos were sensational!

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  2. Beth Gainer wrote the following: I tried to comment, but I’m having some trouble posting. Here is what I said: My gosh! This is a beautiful story of the love between friends. You were a great friend to Li and her last Christmas was special indeed — all because of her wonderful family of friends. Thank you for sharing this, and now I’m sharing your post with others!

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    1. Beth, thank you so much. Li really was special and made the day so great. It was a gift to be in her presence. She taught me a lot about friendship and I appreciate your sharing this. I am also glad I am getting to know you through social media. Thanks again!

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  3. Oh Susan, thank you so much for sharing this special memory. I loved reading about your wonderful friendship with Li and how you spent Christmas 2011 together. I’m so sorry for your loss. Memories are such treasures for the heart aren’t they? Hugs.
    ,

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    1. Nancy, memories truly are treasures to the heart, and I am so lucky to have such wonderful ones of Li. It’s interesting when I think of Li I think more about what I gained than what I lost. She just had a way about her that made us feel good that we could be with her under such tremendous pressure. Still I think a lot about her and I miss her. Breast cancer has so many layers to it. Thank you for sharing your insight!

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  4. Oh Susan, this was so moving to read and really encapsulates the true spirit of Christmas, love, and friendship. Thank you for sharing Li’s last Christmas with us. I feel humbled having read it.

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    1. Marie it pleases me more than I can say to read your reaction to my post about a very special Christmas with my incredible friend Li. I feel lucky that I can share this amazing moment in time and you can get a glimpse in to how truly special Li was. It is comforting that I have this blog so that I can keep the memory of my friend alive as we all try to see an end to this devastating disease. I also wish you my friend Marie, a very Healthy and Happy New Year! Hugs to you – Susan

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  5. Susan,
    Thank you for giving us a glimpse into such a special friendship. I hope to be part of a big change in 2013…

    I know we will be doing this together…..along with many other advocates pushing for NEW and better research…

    Happy new year, my friend…

    Hugs,

    AnneMarie

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    1. I am with you all the way for the changes that we will be a part of making in 2013. I also proudly wish you…my friend….a Very Happy and Healthy New Year! Extra hugs back – Susan

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  6. Thanks for the beautiful post, Susan. Li was a very special, giving and funny woman and I miss her. I loved reading about your Christmas with her and knowing that it was her last, she must’ve enjoyed it even more!

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    1. Hi Vicki. Li really did enjoy it. It’s so strange to know how wonderful she made this day knowing that the end was coming and still being in the moment for a beautiful day.

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