I was going to write a few thoughts about melanoma and politics, but the news of Hillary Quinn Kind’s passing has really affected me. There’s no way I can write about anything else.
For those of you who may not know, Hillary Quinn Kind was the melanoma warrior featured in the Stand Up 2 Cancer special that was broadcast not long ago. On the night it aired, I took my kids to their grandparents’ house for a sleep over. Even though I was recording the show on my DVD as I drove, I was a little disappointed at not watching it live. When we arrived at my in-laws, the TV was on. I (rudely) asked if I could just switch the channel briefly and check into the broadcast. As I did, the melanoma segment started.
If you didn’t catch it before, here’s Hillary’s story.
I was struck by this girl’s beauty, strength and courage in the face of obvious adversity. The discussion she had with her doctor was real and heart breaking. It was courageous to hear her say “maybe if it’s not me surviving, maybe they will find a cure and I will have helped them.” But what touched me emotionally the most was to watch her sky-dive (thus knocking off an item off her bucket list) to the haunting tune of “Simple Gifts.” (The tune has a special place in my heart already). I still barely hold back the tears when I watch it.
The fight against melanoma…the “just cut it out skin cancer”…had a face for the world to see. It had a representative story. And in the middle of my in-laws’ family room, I could hear the entire melanoma community cheering.
Like so many others, I “friended” Hillary on Facebook…and she was kind enough to accept. We never corresponded, but I watched her posted life as she continued to fight. She never really discussed her illness as I recall, so it came as an absolute shock when I read that she passed away last night.
My first thought…dammit. My second thought…was a smile. Strange, I know. It was partly due to knowing she was no longer in pain, and partly knowing that we have another strong-willed angel looking over us. I hope that other people, besides the melanoma community recall her touching story from the broadcast…and I hope they get word of Hillary’s passing so that they can get the full emotional message of melanoma’s wrath.
‘Tis the gift to be simple, ‘tis the gift to be free
‘Tis the gift to come down where we ought to be.
And when we find ourselves in the place just right,
‘Twill be in the valley of love and delight.
Rest in Peace Hillary Quinn Kind.