Saturday, June 16, 2012


My wonderful friend, Linda Croucher, lost her long battle with breast cancer Thursday.

She was a remarkable woman whose light shined a little brighter than most. She had a special gift for making good friends, and if you spent any length of time with her, you laughed - deep, gut busting snort your ice tea through your nose kind of laughter. She lived a joyful life, had a deep faith, and fought her cancer battle with an unrelenting positive attitude. Rarely did she show despair about her illness. But if she did, she'd stop and say, "Cancer sucks!" Then she'd smile. Linda touched people. And whether you knew her personally or not, whether you know it or not, she's touched your life too.

A number of years ago I had lunch with Linda at a local restaurant. On this particular occasion we were celebrating my first manicure. Somehow the topic of manicures had come up at church, and I admitted to Linda that I'd never had one. Truthfully, I didn't care that I'd never had that experience. But Linda gave me a stern talking to that began with, "Seriously??? How could you not know that every woman deserves to pamper herself?" The next thing I know, I'm sitting in Linda's kitchen with my hands soaking in a bowl of something warm while her dog, Astro, kept watch beside me. With her assortment of surgical looking tools, Linda proceeded to work her manicure magic on my hands. We talked, we laughed, we talked some more, until she was satisfied with her work (which really was quite nice!). When she finished, we headed to the restaurant.

During lunch, Linda's phone rang. She took one look at the number and said, "I'm sorry, but it's business. I need to take this call." The phone conversation went something like this: "Yes, that's correct. No, probably not. We need all the help we can get. Thank you, Senator Frist. I really appreciate your support." This was the day that I learned Linda was a breast cancer survivor, and a tireless advocate in the fight to end breast cancer.

She told me about how she learned at age 35 that she had breast cancer. She was the fourth generation of her family to have the disease, and she was on a mission to ensure that her daughters, Sarah and Molly, would not be the fifth. Over the years, she worked with the National Breast Cancer Coalition in many roles - volunteer Lead Field Coordinator for Ohio, and eight-time Team Leader for NBCC's Lobby Day, and a two-term member of the Board of Directors of the Breast Cancer Alliance of Greater Cincinnati. Recently her efforts were recognized by NBCCF, and she was awarded the Wo(men) Who Get It Right Award. The other recipients that evening were Jackie Hill and Brooke Shields. Former President, Bill Clinton, presented her award.

Linda's cancer returned. But even though she had to make changes in her life - like resigning her teaching aide position because she was uncertain if her health would allow her to complete the school year, and learning to cope with the ongoing disappointment of chemo after chemo that didn't bring the needed results - treatments that often made her very, very ill -she remained positive, funny, and joyful.

And just for the record... NO ONE made bald look better than Linda!  Hats loved Linda. Really. It didn't matter if it was a ball cap, a straw hat, or a fancy schmancy Sunday something or other, she always looked great! (Notice the caption - I loved her sense of humor!)

There is a wonderful song from the show WICKED that says these words.

I've heard it said
that people come into our lives for a reason
Bringing something we must learn
And we are led
To those who help us most to grow
If we let them
And we help them in return
Well, I don't know if I believe that's true
But I know I'm who I am today
Because I knew you...

My dear Linda, I can say with certainty that because I knew you, I have have been changed for good. I will miss you more than I can ever express. You are and will always be loved.  Rest in peace.