Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Team Laura

Team Laura received the news we knew was coming eventually, but which we hoped would somehow be delayed a bit longer.

Laura Morefield lost her battle with cancer yesterday morning at 7:30 a.m.

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I "met" Laura first on CompuServe, where we were both members of the David Gerrold forum. I don't remember when I met her for the first time, face to face, but I remember visiting with her when I went with David to a screenwriting class he was teaching at Pepperdine University in Malibu.

Walt and I stayed at the home she and husband Dan had in Santa Clarita, near Magic Mountain a couple of times when we were headed down to the Los Angeles area. I remember the help she gave me when I twisted my ankle in Los Angeles and could barely get out of the car in her driveway.

She introduced me to her mother, Charlene Baldridge, a theater critic in the San Diego area. I had just agreed to be a critic and I was happy to have her thoughts on how to do it well.

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When Paul died, Laura drove the ~300 miles to be here for the memorial. I was so incredibly touched by her kindness. We remained in casual contact over the years.

In November of 2008, I received a note from her:

Hi Bev,

I know this is crappy news to get in an email but I can’t seem to face making phone calls out of the blue…so here goes:

I’ve been diagnosed with cancer (stage 4). It’s called adenocarcinoma and likely started in my colon (which is good news because it would then be more responsive to treatment). There are tumors in my liver and in my right lung. That’s all we’ve found so far. I’m in a tiny bit of pain but nothing serious.

I’ve got a lot going for me…I’m young, healthy (other than the cancer), surrounded by a loving husband, family and friends. So I’ve clearly chosen to fight this for as long and hard as possible. I’ll be starting chemo in a few weeks at most and will know in three months or so how my body’s responding to the treatment.

I wanted to let you know because you’ve been important in my life and it gives me strength to think of you rooting for me. I so appreciated our friendship over the years, starting with DG’s forum and blossoming into so much more as you stood alongside me when Bob died. I find you to be an amazing person, gifted and funny, a liver of life in bold and deeply personal terms. That’s an inspiration to me.

I hope you understand my desire to break the news this way. Every time I talk to someone about it (and there’ve been a lot of conversations that begin with “I have cancer” these past few days) it’s been very difficult and I want to shelter my emotions for a little bit. Thanks for listening, now, and so many times in the past.

Blessings to you, my friend


Knowing that attitude and support make a big difference in dealing with such a terrible diagnosis, she formed "Team Laura," a group of friend to whom she sent regular updates on her condition and asked for us to pray for specific things -- that this treatment would work, that her tests would be positive, that this or that number would be lower (or higher) on the next test, etc. We responded by praying for her and trying to keep her spirits up with cards and phone calls and jokes and all things that would keep her mind focusing on the positive.

I’m not looking forward to the steeper parts of this path, but I am so very grateful for the friends, family and incredible husband I have who have gathered around me and are already making me feel better.

She faithfully filled us in on the "gory details" of her surgeries, her procedures, her round of chemo, each message coming with hope and optimism...and concern for others.

I’d also appreciate prayers and candles and good thoughts (whatever your particular way of expressing your heart’s desire to the Creator) for my and Dan’s family. This has been a stressful time for them, as well as for us and our friends and I know we all can use a little extra tlc right now. (12/3/08)

When Laura was not able to write the updates, Dan would take on that task for her.

I was most impressed with her determination to live life to the fullest. She continued to play golf, do yoga, go on long walks, and travel with Dan.

Today was really special…I played golf for the first time since my surgery. The day before chemo is my highest energy day and I had enough today for 9 holes at the club (with my friend, Renee’) and 52 strokes (just under double bogey golf…so a good round for me considering I had 1/3 of my colon taken out less than 3 months ago!)

I feel healthy, gaining in strength and overall have a positive outlook…which is maintained by staying in the moment rather than worrying about what I can’t control. Prayers, journaling, visits by friends and family; these things all strengthen me and give more comfort than you know.

When her mood was somber she shared that with Team Laura too.

I can’t tell you how overwhelmed, loved and supported I feel after your emails back to me yesterday. Thank you for offers of phone numbers, suggestions of times to call, crazy photos, and funny one-liners! They all lifted my mood considerably!

The treatment seemed to be working midway through 2009 and she wrote:

I don’t know exactly what this means for the future…but I do know it’s excellent news today.

I got a phone call from my oncologist this afternoon, Dr. Cheng. He gave me my test results from Monday’s combined PET/CT Scan. I quote: “The scan did not find any active cancer in your body.”

I said, “Excuse me? What did you say?”

He repeated: “There is no evidence of active cancer anywhere in your body.”

First off, a big THANK YOU to the Creator for this amazing news. 7 months ago I was told there was no hope for this type of news given my situation. Yet here we are…and I am so grateful.

The good news was not to last, of course, and two months later there were new nodules on her lung (while the colon was the primary cancer, it had spread everywhere) The e-mails kept coming, titled "surgery update" or "chemo update."

In May of 2010, she held a virtual party to celebrate her surviving past the date they had told her she would not survive.

I’m having a virtual party this Friday. It’s called “Laura’s Sell-By Date Virtual Cocktail Party.” Here’s the concept: As of Friday I will have officially passed the median survival time (and the date I was told was a best case scenario back in November 2008). So I’d like to honor that (and you, Team Laura since you’ve been a big part of my will to live and desire to fight) by having everyone pause at 7:00 pm to raise a glass of whatever you want to acknowledge the date. I’d love it if you could take a photo of yourself celebrating and send it to me.

We all took pictures of ourselves toasting her and sent the photos to her. The party even made the Orange County Register.

In the middle of this, Dan's father died and a note went out to Team Laura, which responded with love and support for the famiy.

Thank you, Team Laura, for your amazing support. For enabling me to engage in a fascinating, joy-filled life because each of you brings such richness to our world.

In December last year she wrote:

We are enjoying my “extra” time off of chemo by being a big more active and have been to a few movies and even out to dinner with friends. We’re looking forward to Christmas and celebrating in a quiet way as our families are either far away or have children of their own with whom to celebrate the holiday. I am reminded powerfully of Easter every Christmas…that the joy of Christmas took Christ through a difficult path to the different, more painful joy of Easter. This year is no exception.

In March she learned that the chemo treatments had run their course and admitted that this was a scary time for her, but she and Dan took a trip to Hawaii before her next doctor's appointment.

There was some good news last month, but then came the report from Dan that she had gone into the hospital and then the sad news I received this morning.

Throughout this, Laura has acted with the grace and dignity that I always saw in her. I don't know how she was in person, but in her e-mails she remained as upbeat as possible. She defied the odds and lived more than a year longer than anyone thought she would.

She gave us wonderful lessons in how to live -- and how to die.

She will be sorely missed.


Harriet said...

My condolences to Laura's family, and to the Team.

Mary Z said...

What a lovely tribute to your friend. Condolences to Laura's family and all who love her.

phonelady said...

My condolences to her family and friends and others who were close to her .