This weekend it was exciting to see several local events raising money to fight cancer. The American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life was held over Saturday night to fund research and personal cancer services. Together the friends, family and supporters of cancer patients spent a long night at Heavenly Farms, braving remarkably cold spring weather, in a very successful fundraiser. Then, early Sunday morning, the Amy Foundation held their yearly Bike Ride for Amy, in order to raise dollars to pay for mammograms for the under insured. Again a successful event, taking in over $20,000. Amy, who died of breast cancer, was my patient, so I elected panting up hills over freezing in the night, and attended the second event.
On the Amy Ride, about 100 cyclists spent the morning, riding 25, 35 or 50 miles, on progressively hilly courses, centered around the Delaware and Raritan Canal. Not wishing to appear completely unmanly, but also not wishing to have my knees reconstructed, I elected the 35 miler. I spent a wonderful cool spring morning admiring the strength of other cyclists in the distance and being reminded of the wonder of the internal combustion engine. While climbing a particularly unpleasant rise, known as Coppermine Road, it occurred to me the reason I was there… my life was being changed by Amy.
Usually, when someone dies of cancer or any other malady, we grieve the often-terrible loss in solitary and group pain. We remember the wonderful things that person did in their life. We do good works to memorialize and honor them. However, it occurs to me that when a person dies they leave something more. They leave the energy of their personality and life. This real energy is then absorbed and reflected by the people they knew. That energy is channeled into decisions and acts that reverberate through all of our lives. That energy flows to people who did not even know the person that died, changing their lives. It radiates out, though us all, like ripples in a pond.
Amy Feiman Behar died on Thursday, March 29, 2007. She was 49 years old and left behind a husband and two young daughters. Until the end of her life, she was vibrant, aggressive, brilliant and beautiful. The energy of her life was transformed by her family and friends to continue the fight against cancer. The dollars they raised have paid for over 1000 mammograms in New Brunswick, saving lives. That energy brought 100 riders together on a Sunday morning. Many of those people never knew Amy but through the continued energy of her life, their lives were touched and changed. Amy’s gift, her personal energy, put me on a hill on a spring morning, and gave me a chance to fight cancer in a different way. Perhaps the legacy of those we have lost is not just in memory but in living energy that radiates though us all.