Eleven years ago today, America lost over 3000 of our citizens in a terrorist attack on the World Trade Center in New York. I thought that this would be a good opportunity to memorialize one of our own.
Two weeks ago, the multiple myeloma community lost one of our long-lived heroes. Barbara Hammack–best known as “Boogie Barb”–died after living with multiple myeloma for over twenty years.
Barb was an outspoken inspiration for many of us. She helped countless fellow patients and caregivers, both on her blog and by answering questions from newly diagnosed patients on the Myeloma List/Serve.
Barb was a regular reader of my Myeloma Beacon column. She often took time to comment, adding a welcome perspective.
As it became obvious that Barb wouldn’t be able to overcome her latest setback, the List/Serve lit-up with well wishes from hundreds of members. Patient blogs shared stories about Barb–and how her life had positively impacted others.
This outpouring of love and appreciation continued for more than a week following her passing.
Now that the dust has settled, I wanted to pay my respects as well. Here is a copy of her obituary in the Washington Post:
Published in The Washington Post on September 2, 2012
On August 24, 2012, Barbara Hammack, 66, of Kensington, MD died peacefully after a long journey with multiple myeloma. Her parents, Janet and Yale Cohen, predecease her. She is survived by her beloved children, Scott (Stacey) Hammack of North Bethesda, MD, and Debi Hammack of Kensington, MD, and her cherished grandsons, Jackson and Austin Hammack. She is also survived by her brother, Rob Cohen and his family of Potomac, MD, and dearest friend, Gail Schmitt of Rockville, MD. Interment took place on Tuesday, August 28, at Parklawn Memorial Park in Rockville, MD. A celebration of her life will be held on Sunday, September 16 from 2 to 5 p.m. at the Margaret Schweinhaut Senior Center, 1000 Forest Glen Road, Silver Spring, MD. In lieu of flowers, contributions in her memory may be made to the International Myeloma Foundation, 12650 Riverside Drive, Suite 206, North Hollywood, CA 91607 (www.myeloma.org).
Here is a wonderful example of the dozens of patient and caregiver blog posts and tributes, written by Tricia Thurman-Beckman on her blog, Triciasquilts, on August 25th:
As most of my friends know, I have a blood cancer called multiple myeloma. I’ve been fighting this disease for over 3 years now, hoping for a cure. I also am listed on a cancer site where others like me can ask questions or answer others questions. We are a community of mmers praying for all hope. On this board, we had a woman, whom was called Boogie Barb, who had survived with us for over 20 years…..which is a remarkable length of time to live with mm. She seemed to always be there with comforting words whenever we needed her.
When I had broken my hip in December, she wrote me a pm and had told me how she had broken the same bone and how she dealt with it, and basically told me to get on with life. She did this with almost everyone on this board. She was like our mother, our best friend, our mentor, but especially our hope. Over 20 years with multiple myeloma……she gave me my hope.
Sadly, early yesterday, we lost our Boogie Barb. She had developed a secondary cancer in the recent months, and was in and out of the hospital a few times. She passed on in her sleep, very peacefully and not feeling any pain as she went. But she left pain for most of us on the list.
I am trying very hard not to feel the loss and pain and the empty feeling in my heart for losing someone I had never met in person. And the reason why, Barb wouldn’t have wanted that. I can hear her fingers tap-tapping away on the keyboard writing all of us messages and telling us not to feel sorry for her and not to mourn for her.
One of her favorite lines was to get on with your life and she told several of us to that, and I can hear her now, saying that very same thing. You have lots to live for, life is short(whether you have cancer or not), so drag yourself out of bed, get on your feet, and LIVE. LIVE LIFE!
I will not grieve today or tomorrow or the next day…..I am going to live my life with gusto…..because who knows………..I hope that all that read this, can do the same thing.
I love you Boogie Barb!! I will raise my glass high in the air for you. I will celebrate your life instead of grieving it. You are now at rest.
Rest peacefully. We will all be OK.
Feel good and keep smiling! Pat