During the last months of her life, Serena McCallum opened her heart to family and friends in a very intimate way.
After battling ovarian cancer for more than three years, Serena was dying. When hospice began, her oldest daughter, Conseulo, set up a CaringBridge site. And Serena began to write.
“Whenever she had a quiet moment and felt strong enough, she would write—about everything,” says Consuelo.
“People don’t know how to talk about dying,” Consuelo continues. “By her vulnerability, my mother taught people how to talk about it, how to make the process of dying okay.”
Sharing the journey
A vibrant woman with an incredible zest for life, Serena was known for her quick laugh and generous spirit. Her numerous friends and family members followed her journal entries faithfully.
Consuelo and her two sisters also found that they gained a deeper understanding of their mother by reading the guestbook entries. “We got to see her through her friends’ eyes,” Consuelo explains.
According to Consuelo, Serena always wanted to be a writer. CaringBridge helped her fulfill that wish.
“It inspired her to write, and it allowed her to reach so many people in a short amount of time,” Consuelo says.
“I can’t say enough about CaringBridge,” she continues. “It gave my mother something to look forward to, and allowed all of us to take this journey with her.”
A legacy of love
Serena passed away surrounded by her family in April 2008. Consuelo continues to honor her mother’s legacy by working with the Ovarian Cancer Coalition of Greater California.
“Gayle McKenna, the founder of the coalition, has lived with this disease for 22 years,” Consuelo says. “But people don’t know the signs. That’s why we have to raise awareness.”
Serena McCallum’s life was cut short. But by sharing her journey, she gave her loved ones a priceless gift.
“We have her stories, and all the stories that people shared on the website,” Consuelo reflects. “The stories have become our memories.”
“For people who may be scared to write about what they’re going through I would just say: people want to live through this with you. That’s what I’ve learned.”