I didn’t know her. Nor do I know anyone who knew her. But Michelle Hobor’s story touched me so deeply, tears continue to stream down my face as I write about her.
Maybe it’s because I’m a woman, maybe it’s because I’m pregnant and hormonal, or maybe it’s because I’m a mother of a very young child. Either way, I can’t seem to let her story go.
Michelle, who lived in Uxbridge, Ont., exemplified the ideal positive woman — a sunny, fun-loving, friend, wife and stay-home mother. Two years ago, at 32 years old, she had it all — a police officer husband, a two-year old son, and a new baby daughter. The million-dollar family. But as 2005 came to a close, she noticed a hardness in her breast which was diagnosed as breast cancer.
No, this isn’t your typical Valentine’s Day message of love and romance tips. But I write it for all of us who have no idea, as Michelle didn’t, of what tomorrow may bring. And what that means to those who love us.
Within a year, Michelle underwent a mastectomy and chemotherapy, learned she was a carrier of the BRCA1 gene for familial breast cancer, and subsequently planned for her second mastectomy, hysterectomy and reproductive surgery.
Some cysts on her ovaries and a marker for ovarian cancer put those operations on hold. Last Sept. 28, the Toronto Star carried a special Breast Cancer section which featured a piece by Hobor.
She closed with: “I may have cancer, but cancer does not have me.”
The words of a fighter, the sentiment of a survivor.
Only a few months later, she wrote: “My greatest fear is leaving my children with no mother. They are so young right now that they wouldn’t even remember me. It makes it very hard to cope with every day life.”
Eighteen days later, she was told she had ovarian cancer, underwent the hysterectomy, and found out her ovarian cancer was really more breast cancer. Her worst-case scenario.
At Christmas, Michelle shared these thoughts with Adam Gutteridge, a Toronto Star editor: “My wee babies, just 3 and 17 months, are too young to understand that I haven’t just abandoned them, that I have been stolen from them by a disease that shows no mercy, indiscriminately killing or letting live at will.”
The Hobors took their children to Disneyworld last month for some old-fashioned family fun. And on Jan. 28, Michelle passed away.
This may not have been the happy lovey-dovey column you were hoping for, but it brings a strong message straight from the heart: Cherish your loved ones, for the time we have together is precious. Don’t wait until Hallmark days to tell each other that you love one another, or to show affection.
Make your relationships a priority — your partner, your children, your family. Today and every day, love is what makes the world go ’round.