The month was November, the year was 1999. Michelle had celebrated her 30th birthday in July. The world was filled with apprehension about Y2K. Amid looming possibilities of computer software not being able to turn the century, the fear of data loss and the disruption of business, our family was dealing with a much larger fear. Our daughter, our very healthy only child, had just been diagnosed with a very rare cancer - malignant thymoma - Stage IV. In the months and years that followed her courage sustained us. Michelle's surgery to remove 2 large tumors - one from the pleura lining of her left lung and the other from the pericardium occurred in February 2000. This was our own, personal Y2K. It involved splitting her sternum as in open heart surgery. Her 6 hour procedure at the Massachusetts General Hospital seemed interminable. The staff in the waiting room notified us each time a call came in from the operating room to update us of their/her progress. Volunteers stopped by to offer refreshments and comforting words. Good friends came to support and distract us as the minutes ticked by. The time finally came when we could see Michelle in the recovery room. The daunting view of multiple tubes, wires and bandages weakened our knees, but watching the rhythm of her chest rising and falling gave us a sense of hope and relief. After a week or so it was time to bring her home with us to recover. The months that followed were not easy for her, but she managed to keep that wonderful smile and sense of humor that surgery could never remove! It was a year before she became strong enough to return to teaching. Her students loved and respected her, and she was able to resume coaching Cross Country running along with Winter and Spring track. As an English teacher she enjoyed writing, and often would e-mail copies of her writing to me. Many of those are found in my book. Michelle's Christmas letters included what she called "What I learned from my students." Many of these quotations are found among the stories in the Chapter called "Friends & Family". Everyone gleefully anticipated the arrival of her letter each year! The importance of language and the fun that it could generate played a large part in Michelle's life, and she shared it frequently. She enjoyed public speaking and wrote and presented several speeches beginning with her college commencement address. These tended to be inspirational, instructional and very moving. A chapter in my book includes several of her speeches. Our daughter made the best of every hour in every day in every year. She reached out to others bringing love, laughter, caring and compassion. In 2005 new tumors were found, necessitating two separate surgeries. Another surgery was necessary in 2012. Throughout her life our daughter had cultivated quite a cadre of friends. When she passed away a message went out from her hematologist to Michelle's friends and family members asking them to write stories to be included in a book. Those stories were the inspiration for this book.
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Live with Courage Lead with Hope: A Memoir of a Life Well-Lived based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Reviewed by Carol Hoyer for Reader Views (12/16) There have been very few books that I have read where the individual incapacitated by a devastating illness has not wallowed in self-pity or blamed others for their lot in life. “Live with Courage Lead with Hope” by Judy Cadorette is one of those books. It is the story of Michelle Cadorette, a young woman who spent the last fourteen years of her life in the hospital fighting cancer, yet at the same time, she was able to continue to provide love, support, and encouragement to those around her. She was a great model to all, and it makes us feel somewhat guilty when we whine about the smallest things. Michelle gives everyone, including readers the quest to determine “What is important to us.” Written by her mother Judy, this book encompasses written thoughts from Michelle, her friends, family, and medical staff. Michelle shares memories of what she learned from her students, to things she will never be able to do again. Michelle was a gifted writer and English teacher. She came from a loving, solid family where everyone was accepted unconditionally, and constantly supported. You can see this reflected in her writings, shared in this book. Even though this is a story about Michelle’s battle with cancer and the many side effects, it really is about love, caring, and giving to others. Very few individuals will ever be able to match the courage and love of Michelle. She was a jokester with the medical staff; she had her down moments but always kept the big picture in mind. Regardless of what is going on with you, you can make it either positive or negative. Michelle chose the positive. I imagine that writing this book represented a couple of things for Michelle’s mother, one being therapeutic, and two, a wonderful memoir of her daughter’s true nature. It is written with such love and compassion. “Live with Courage Lead with Hope” by Judy Cadorette was so easy to read, readers will feel every emotion they have from sadness, to anger, to laughter and yet each reader will come out of this hopefully with a different perspective on their own lives.