Breast Cancer Crushes the Mightiest Among Us…

In Loving Memory of my Beautiful Friend Jacqueline. 

Jacqueline and her husband

I gasp,

Trying hard to breathe,

Hot tears streaming down my face,

The words on my screen a thousand piercing arrows through my bleeding heart…

I want to scream “No! No! It cannot be!”

But I know.

My heart knows.

My heart has known for days, and yet…

I held on to the possibility that maybe she was just resting…

When she did not pick up the phone last week, my heart tightened, fearing the worst.

But I wanted to believe…

I NEEDED to believe…

And yet here it was, staring at me from my screen, the irrefutable truth “Our beautiful friend Jacqueline passed away last week….”

I stare…

The full effect of these words refusing to sink in.

The words she spoke to me  just weeks before, dancing around my brain, “I’m scared. I’m too young to die. I’m only 41!”

Followed by words that defined my beautiful friend, “It’s spread to lungs, but I believe that I’ll beat that too.”

I believed it too. If anyone had the will to beat this mighty beast it was my Jacquie.

I will never forget the day she shared the dreadful news with me.

God, we nearly laughed it seemed so impossible!

We had met for one of these short coffee breaks that always lingered for more than three hours.

She looked radiant!

I told her over and over how amazing she looked, how healthy!

“I am! Never felt better”, she had said, her beautiful smile bigger and brighter than ever.

That was my Jacqueline, always smiling! 

She’d been on a special diet for about four months and she was feeling so vibrant and energized!  How could she be sick?

I stared in utter disbelief… But it was real, far too real.

In true Jacquie fashion she was handling this beast with courage and a fierce determination to come out victorious.

She had been diagnosed about four months earlier. Not wanting to undergo chemotherapy she had been seeing a naturopath and following a rigorous diet. It was a diet I had never heard of before that relied heavily on the consumption of Bulgarian buckwheat.  I know Jacqueline far too well not to know she had carefully and extensively researched her options before committing to this one.  And it seemed to be working. The tumor had already shrunk significantly and things were looking good.

She was also keeping the news a big secret because she did not want to burden anyone with this ugly beast, especially not her husband.  She was so sure she would win the battle that she did not want to sound any alarms.

She did not want to be looked at differently.

She did not want pity.

She did not want to see her suffering in the eyes of her loved ones.

She would share the news when it was a thing of the past… When she was once again vibrantly healthy and cancer free…

That day never came.

Jacqueline was a fellow parent at my school and one of my most treasured friends.

She also told me how much I inspired her but SHE is the one who inspired ME!

Jacqueline was Russian and one of the most accomplished women I have ever met!

She was from the beautiful city of St. Petersburg where she had worked as a psychologist who specialized in suicidal clients.  She held more than four masters degrees and dreamt of becoming an airline pilot, something not exactly common for a Russian woman.

She had put those dreams on hold temporarily to devote all her time to raising her son.

She had also competed national in running and had at some point in her teen years contemplated the olympics.

Every time we met I discovered something new about my beautiful, inspirational friend!!

She was humble yet fiercely confident.  I’ve rarely met someone so strong about WHO she was.

Someone who defended her positions with a mixture of finesse and strength.

She was a devoted friend truly interested in the lives of others.  Someone who took the time to listen!

And that smile!

Her smile radiated from the depths of her very soul! All who knew and loved her will remember that warm, beautiful smile forever…  a smile that wrapped you in the most exquisite embrace and stayed with you long after she had gone.

A smile that beams at me today, each time I catch that sparkle in her eye through her photograph.

That smile is how Jacqueline lived her life: fiercely, fully, joyfully!  She lived with passion, giving fully to the moment at hand. She always dressed for success, wore the most gorgeous jewelry… I can’t tell you how many times I complemented her on a bold, beautiful necklace… “It’s from Russia”, she would smile.

She LOVED her country and took frequent trips to her beloved St. Petersburg.

Jacqueline also loved to travel. She particularly relished luxury cruises and was planning her next adventure…

The two loves of her life were her husband and her son.  They were the center of her world and she would stop at nothing to ensure their happiness.

To say that Jacqueline was a mighty warrior is an understatement.  She was fierce! And I know how tenaciously she fought this cancer.

In the end, despite her most valiant effort, the cancer would win.

It’s been  more than a month since she has left us yet my pain is still raw.  Will it ever subside>

Her passing hit me hard, much harder than I could have ever suspected it would.  Perhaps because I was so convinced she would win the fight.

Perhaps because she is the first of the many women I have known to battle this brutal disease to die.

Perhaps because I can not ignore the fact that I could someday fight this beast as well.

No one is immune.

I had my first mammogram in my early thirties.  My doctor had detected a lump. It turned out to be benign but I’ve had to get mammograms every other year since that first one. I have not exactly been good about getting them.  It’s been five years since my last one.  How foolish is that?

Early detection is crucial in this fight, and I know I must be proactive.

And I urge you to do the same.

Jacqueline’s battle was brief, less than a year, but it was fierce.  Don’t take your health for granted. Get your mammograms or thermography and help educate other women to do the same.

Their life,

Your life,

May depend on it.

with Love, 




swirl divider

Throughout the month of October, Aftershokz will be donating 25% of the sales of the limited edition pink titanium Trekz headphones to Bright Pink.  I’ve just discovered this amazing non-profit whose mission is to save lives from ovarian and breast caners by empowering women to live proactively. The founder of Bright Pink is a breast cancer survivor herself. Please visit their website and support in any way you feel is right for you.

Aftershokz Aware with Pink 25% offer


  1. I’m very sorry for your loss 🙁

  2. So tragic and heartbreaking, I am deeply sad for you, as you know I lost a friend recently to cancer too:( SO SAD. I hope her son is alright. Thank you for sharing such a beautiful tribute. <3

    • Thank you my beautiful friend. Yes cancer is truly merciless and not all who battle it will come out victorious. My heart and prayers go out to you and to all who have lost a loved one to cancer. <3

  3. So sad.. too many people lost to cancer. I am sorry you lost a good friend, that is incredibly hard to see someone go through that.

  4. I am so very sorry for your loss. It is so hard to watch someone you love go through such a difficult battle and to lose them as well. What a beautiful tribute you have written to your friend.

    • Thank you April. Jacqueline was a special lady with such a big heart and so much life to live! Her passing renewed my commitment to make each day count and to do my part in saving others from facing a battle like hers.

  5. I’m so very sorry. Sending my most heartfelt condolences. It sounds like your friend fought a mighty fight and is loved by all. Here’s to putting and end to breast cancer!

    • Amen Cathi! Cancer is a ferocious beast, in all of its forms. Jacqueline fought with all her might… One of her wishes was to spread the word to women everywhere, of all ages, to be proactive, to get screened regularly… By the time her cancer was discovered her tumor was 10 centimeters. She was convinced that if the cancer had been discovered sooner her fate would have been different. I believe it would have been as well. So please share her message with all the women in your life… Get screened and stay educated about prevention and care. <3

  6. Taline Saad says:

    What a beautiful tribute dear Valerie! Although I didn’t know Jacqueline as well as you did, but I remember her beautiful smile and her constant presence around Michael, always tending to every little and big need he had. May she Rest In Peace..

    • Thank you my beautiful friend. Jacqueline was a gem and her devotion to Michael truly beautiful. I loved how willing she was to truly listen and adapt her dreams to his. She was raised in such a strict Russian way with a host of expectations, but she wanted Michael to follow HIS path and embrace the fact that he is both American and Russian… I saw how hard it was sometimes for her to let go of what was so deeply ingrained in her, but she wanted to, for his happiness.

  7. I am so so sorry for your loss.

  8. sheila ressel says:

    What a lovely person she must have been. So sorry for your loss.

  9. Terry Poage says:

    What a beautiful tribute. So sorry to hear about your loss.

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