Would that we could know
the joy that you have known
Would that we could show
the courage you have shown
Would that we could fly
the heights that you have flown
Would that we could shine
the light that you have shone
I wrote that last week on the sad occasion of my cousin Tricia Antonini’s death.
It is my natural inclination to keep things like this to myself, it being, on its surface at least, a private matter. In the end, though, I felt it would be a disservice to her public legacy not to write about it.
Her own public sharing of a 20-year battle with cancer shows a generosity of spirit that, frankly, I don’t think I could even aspire to, much less emulate.
She was an inspirational human being, and not just within our family.
Trish was diagnosed with leukemia (for the first time) in 1997 when she was 23 years old. Bone marrow transplants got her through the first and second bouts, but it came back in 2006. Subsequently, and against all odds, she beat flesh-eating disease and pneumonia and successfully fought for a third bone marrow transplant despite the fact she was told it was not advisable. It gave her a new, albeit temporary, lease on life.
Despite the ongoing health challenges, she established and maintained a successful accounting career, produced artwork, pursued acting, travelled extensively and volunteered for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society of Canada.
In 2011, her professional, volunteer and personal accomplishments earned her a spot on Avenue Calgary magazine’s 2011 Top 40 under 40 list.
Unfortunately, cancer was not done with her. In 2014, it was breast cancer that attacked. She fought that too, but a bilateral mastectomy and chemotherapy couldn’t stop it from metastasizing to her brain by 2017.
Almost to the very end, she continued to advocate on behalf of cancer patients as a member of the Alberta Cancer Provincial Advisory Council and a patient advisor to the Cancer Strategic Clinical Network and, perhaps most importantly, through personal interaction with people.
In 2017, she was recognized for all her efforts with the establishment of the Tricia Antonini Award by the Alberta Cancer Foundation.
“The prize recognizes anyone (including patients, families, health-care workers and organizations) who has gone above and beyond to make a positive difference for bone marrow transplant patients,” states the website.
For many years, Trish has been keeping a blog, “Tricia’s Tides,” which she originally established to keep us, her family and close friends, up-to-date on the struggle, but has now been viewed 100,000 times by people all over the world.
Through it all she has been remarkably candid with the good and the bad, but always somehow managed to remain generous, upbeat, positive and philosophical.
A light in the darkness.
Over the past few months, the light has been dimming as the posts have become fewer and further between. When she wrote in April that the time had come to stop fighting and invoke palliative care only, and then in July when a friend had to post for her, we knew it was only a matter of time.
On Aug. 7, my aunt and uncle closed out the blog with a post titled “The Tide Is Out.”
The tide may be out, but the light is not.
Shine on, dear cousin.