I’m not sure Billy Joel knew just how true his songwriting would ring years later, but his ’77 hit “Only the Good Die Young” seems to play over and over in my head when tragedy strikes.
I’ve been around young death ever since I can remember, and I’ll never stop being completely shocked and saddened when it happens. So when I first heard about my high school friend Dana (Fogarty) Mitchell being diagnosed with Stage III Squamous Cell Carcinoma of the Tongue in April of last year, I just couldn’t believe it. How could someone so young, so nice, be deserving of such a thing?
Dana and I lost touch after high school but reconnected while going through mutual health scares. She knew she had oral cancer and underwent aggressive treatment including chemotherapy, radiation and a total glossectomy (tongue removal) over the course of last year. I was in awe of how brave she was and we chatted about our conditions for a short time. Below is one of the encouraging messages she sent me…
After a long fight, Dana passed away September 7, 2013. Her strength, determination, prayers and thoughtful words will stay with me as long as I live. Dana didn’t let her illness stop her from being happy. She married this summer, and I always saw pictures of her with a smile on her face. And that’s Dana. I wish we wouldn’t have lost touch after high school. Her kindness and strength will forever be etched in my memory as a reminder of how I should live my life. Her quote in the high school yearbook (above) really says a lot about who she was…wise beyond her years.