“Love, Loss and Remembering” – A Special Message From Our Executive Director, Hillary Theakston

December 12, 2020 3:00 pm

The following article is provided by The Clearity Foundation to support women with ovarian cancer and their families. Learn more about The Clearity Foundation and the services we provide directly to women as they make treatment decisions and navigate emotional impacts of their diagnosis.

Dear Clearity Community,

We’re sharing a beautiful and important podcast from Kelly Corrigan with you today –“Love, Loss and Remembering” is now available on the Kelly Corrigan Wonders podcast. While this may not be the best time of year to talk about loss and grief, it seems there never is. The topic of death is not an especially comfortable one for most people and we at Clearity are no exception. Our team invests their whole heart in providing women and families with the latest science and research to identify and support more hopeful treatment choices. We’ve largely fallen in line with the cultural norm of avoiding the topic of death out of concern for how it might land with members of our community who are facing uncertainty in their journey.

My hope is that we can do a better job of embracing the complexity of our shared experience and affirm that it is possible to accept mortality and fiercely embrace hope — that you can confront death and work for your survival with everything you have. For Clearity, it means figuring out how to help our community approach the topic of death without fearing it will erode our position as a source of science-based hope. We never give up on the women who turn to us and helping them live life on their terms must include a conversation about end of life too.

The success of Clearity’s Steps Through OC (STOC) program has highlighted death anxiety as a devastating source of stress on the ovarian cancer journey. We frequently hear women say they don’t feel that they have anyone to talk to about end of life and carrying that stress, with a brave face, amplifies their distress. The relief they experience through supportive conversations with the STOC staff has an outsized benefit in decreasing their stress and anxiety levels. Our third-party evaluation of the Steps Through OC program demonstrated that after 10 sessions with a trained counselor, participants experienced statistically significant decreases on several measures of distress. As we seek to understand the impact of our cultural norms on the cancer experience, Being Mortal by Atul Gawande is an excellent resource and a must-read on this topic. It helped me come to a better appreciation of how our cultural avoidance of the topic of death creates so much suffering and anguish for families in our country.

Avoiding grief doesn’t amplify our joy any more than remembering those we have lost diminishes our happiness. During this season, perhaps we can traverse the full range of our emotions and feel gratitude for the richness of our human experience. I hope that Kelly’s “Love, Loss and Remembering” episode becomes a go-to resource for you on a topic many of us find difficult. Kelly writes “I urge you to share this episode with people who matter to you. This is how we can get closer—by sharing and thinking together.”

You matter to us. Thank you for being part of our community and thank you for letting us share and grow with you,

Hillary Theakston
Executive Director
The Clearity Foundation

Click here to listen to the full episode of ‘Love, Loss and Remembering’, from Kelly Corrigan Wonders.

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