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Farewell, Adelea

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One afternoon last February, Miguel Gonzalez, an executive assistant in the Communications Office, handed me a slip of paper containing Adelea Ibsen's name and phone number.

"She wants to tell her story," he said.

I called her the next morning, and though she was in the middle of something, the 32-year-old mother of two charmed me over the next 20 minutes with her honesty, wit, intelligence and laughter.

We arranged to meet the next time she was at MD Anderson for treatment.

AdeleaSmiles.jpgWe had a marvelous conversation a few days later. She was even lovelier in person. With sparkling blue eyes, short, stylish hair, wearing a simple but beautiful sundress, she had a smile that lit up the waiting room.

She obviously adored her husband Kent, whom I met briefly, and her young daughters Pia and Nella, back in Austin, Texas, with her mother.

She told me of her diagnosis with stage IV breast cancer in August of 2008. The family was living in Germany when Adelea, nursing Nella, noticed a change in her breast. Immediately after the shocking diagnosis, the family moved back to Texas so she could be treated at
MD Anderson.

To share her experiences as a young cancer patient, Adelea offered to contribute posts to Cancerwise. She became one of our first patient bloggers, and her honesty, humor and authenticity made her a favorite with readers. One of her posts concerned the fact that the clinical trial she'd been on had failed. With typical honesty and humanity, she recounted the anger and sorrow she felt after learning that yet another trial had been unable to stop the progression of her cancer.

She concluded with: "So we start again with a new trial. This time, we will attempt again the emotional tightrope of having immense hope but no expectations."

Though her health declined in the past two months, it never dampened her sense of humor or resilience. A Facebook post at the end of August mentioned that she'd been "hit on" in a drugstore by a guy "who digs bald chicks. "

"I've still got it," she added wryly.

The lovely and luminous Adelea died last Monday.  

We are humbled by the generous impulse that spurred her to share aspects of her story with Cancerwise readers.

A colleague who also met her said this morning, "Who wants to die in fear? Adelea went with hope. To the last, she went with hope."

Contributions in memory of Adelea Ibsen may be made to her daughters' school, St. George's Episcopal School, 4301 IH-35, Austin, Texas, 78722.

Read posts by Adela Ibsen

Mondays are for Chemo Tuesdays are for Sleep
My Trial Failed
Talking Poop

1 Comment

Thanks so much for the kind words from our friends on Facebook http://www.facebook.com/mdanderson

Kathleen H.
What an inspiring lady! Thanks for sharing her with others.

Donya A.
Wonderful Woman Bless u in your next life bless your family from here out..

Rose F.
It was indeed sad and emotional.. I will pray for her and family...

Melanie M.
What a wonderful woman Adelea was. Very sad that she is gone. I'm so glad she shared her journey.

Pamela T.
Wonderful story. She reminds me of my husband. No matter the setback we never give up hope.

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