My friend Kent Doty Wolfe died this week.
Kent died as a result of having breast cancer which metastasized to her liver and bones. I mentioned her in a post this winter, right after she had gotten the word about the spread of the cancer, in the same week that Elizabeth Edwards died. It was NOT a good week. And this one has been even harder. I am not particularly more scared for myself, but I just cannot wrap my head around Kent's being dead, and so quickly.
Kent was not just a friend with whom I had bonded over our shared breast cancer diagnosis; she was a friend from my childhood - a year older than I, but part of "the High Street Gang," which included lots of children who were around the same age as my brother and I. Her parents were friends of my parents, and she lived an easy walk from my house. The smartest dog in town and my personal trusty sidekick, "Flirt," was the offspring of Kent's dog "Flip" and the disreputable "Whitey" (usually greenish-brown, from rolling in fresh cow manure, NOT white) who belonged to the Ravenels, another component of the gang. My memories of Kent include the iconic early teenage scene of sneaking cigarettes and smoking in her room, as well as the more bucolic picture of our camping with our mutual friend Margaret, at about ages 9 and 10, burning up in the July pine woods of South Carolina and resorting to stripping down to our underwear for the hottest part of the day.
Kent possessed a great wit, and a joking response to every situation seemed to be her stock in trade. Every time I spoke with her about our common diagnosis, she was very off-hand in her approach. Whereas I was looking for a damned answer, she was just rolling with the punches and telling funny stories. She claimed to be unable to even remember the staging of her cancer; I can give you chapter and verse about mine. Now I am wondering if that position wasn't just her way of handling the experience, rather than being evidence of a lack of concern.
The shocking part of Kent's death was how quickly she went from being "on the mend" to being deathly ill. She was very tired from this second go-'round of chemo and radiation, but I had not gotten the vaguest sense that she was close to death. She entered the hospital rather unexpectedly on Sunday with severe nausea, and she died on Wednesday morning.
What more can I say? I had hoped that Kent and I would be able to look back together at years of living from scan to scan. We would compare notes about our hair loss, our underwear challenges, our terrific husbands. Even though her cancer had moved to her bone and liver, I fully expected that she would live longer....as some Stage 4 folks do....and that we would have many more good laughs together.