The mother of one of my best friends died yesterday morning. She'd been fighting breast cancer for over 7 years. During this time, she also raised two children alone--her husband died of a sudden stroke when the oldest child, my friend Katie, was 12; held a fulltime job; underwent genetic studies; took almost every experimental cancer drug known to medicine as they were developed; and ingraned herself in the hearts of all her children's friends as an amazing woman who became a hero or role model to most. This is who she was to those of us who knew her as "Katie's mom". I have the strongest suspicion that among our clan of friends, there will be a large number of young Vickies once we begin to have daughters.

Victoria had a history of breast cancer in her family; nearly all the females and even a good portion of men in the past two generations have come down with it. Her older sister already died of the disease. It wasn't really a suprise that she would get it--just when, and how long she'd survive. But Vickie is one of the bloody stubbornest people I've ever met, and she just put her foot down and REFUSED to die while her children were young. So she lived with cancer, which started as breast cancer, for seven years while it systematically invated every major organ in her body. She lived through treatments that kill most patients--one experimental bout of chemo, she was the only surviving patient from her test group. She lived long enough to see her daughter off to college and through her incredibly rough freshman year to a much more solid, stable one. She saw her son, Nicky, through highschool all save his senior year, when he'd finally settled down and was coping alright. She missed her son being 18 and her daughter 21 by only months, but from 12 and 9 that's a hell of a long time.

She never saw herself as a widow, really, either. She dated enough men until she found the exact right one, married him, and never wanted anyone else. She dated five red-headed Stephens before she married the sixth (although it's only fair to say there were three brunette Roberts in the mix as well). After his death, she dated only enough to satisfy the children clammering for her to so she wouldn't be lonely, but eventually they realized she was not. She always held the belief he was there watching over their family and that she would be with him again when she crossed over as well. This belief was even stronger than one would expect, because his view of the afterlife and hers were different. He was Christian. She was a practicing Orthodox Jew. The children were raised under both religions and never forced to pick either.

She had fought various bouts of chemo over the years, with brief pauses of remission between them. Six months ago she was healthier than she'd been in years. A month ago she was planning to move to New York city in a year, when Nicky graduated. A little over two weeks ago she went in to the doctor and was told previously dead tumors had quadrupled in size in the past month. Just under two weeks ago she still looked healthier than ever, and had hair growing back finally. A week and a half ago she went in to the doctor because she felt very ill--the regrown tumors were in her liver, which had been her last 'clean' organ. Two days later, Wednesday, August 7th, her test results came back and she was told she had about a week left to live. Yesterday, Monday August 12th, she died.

Thank you to everyone who's sent condolences, both to me as a friend, and to her family. Those for which it is relavent to do so, I will pass on. The rest, I will keep and treasure.