Our patient partner Mary Morgan died this week. Each one of the 80,000 cancer deaths in Canada each year is a tragedy; every loss leaves a hole in someone’s heart. But Mary’s death after multiple myeloma was close to home for all of us connected to Queering Cancer.
We met Mary through our partner organisation, Bird Communications. Sue Robins, one of Bird’s co-founders, knew Mary and recommended her. In the short time she worked with us she left an indelible mark on our project and on our website. Mary’s story was the first one we highlighted, and in a way was typical of many queer cancer stories. After her diagnosis she travelled to visit friends and was “gently held by lesbian communities across Canada” finding love, support, and laughter with her chosen family. Mary lived her last few years of life in a small community on the British Columbia coast, close to nature. She had sustenance and support from queer friends, local community, and her former partner Karen. She died on her own terms this week with MAiD (Medical Assistance in Dying).
When we were developing the website we would meet with Mary and she was unwavering in her idea that a cancer website for LGBTQ2+ people should be uncompromisingly queer. She wanted queer imagery and when we debated about the name, she was clear that the site should be called Queering Cancer and not Rainbow Cancer, LGBTQ Cancer or any of the other ideas we had. The site should be “radical, fierce, and bold” she stated – a place of connection, but also a site that challenges the typical heteronormative and cisnormative narratives that accompany so many cancer diagnoses.
Sue Robins has written a lovely and heartfelt tribute to Mary here. We’d urge you to read it, and to read Mary’s story on our website. She was family, and she will be very much missed. We will leave you with her own words:
“Remember we are queer, we know that community can be there for us especially in the worst of times. Honour your soul, even when you have cancer.”