As many of you know, Taylor Willingham is not doing so well. Taylor, who is a real shining star in our community, was diagnosed with kidney cancer this past fall. Despite multiples surgeries and various treatments, her recovery is not going well at this point.
Though she’s not up for too many phone calls and visitors, she LOVES getting and reading email messages. Her good friend Diane Miller tells me she prints them out and re-reads them often. You can email Taylor directly at , but I want to encourage NCDDers to add a comment to this post with a brief message to Taylor. I’ll make sure she sees your comments.
I received this sobering message from Taylor today:
My health is deteriorating faster than I expected, but I am fighting to keep my head above water. My goal is to live to see the wildflowers this spring, but this cancer is not going to make it easy on me!
You may certainly let anyone in our network know about my situation. Renal cell carcinoma is not treatable. It can’t be cured. I can only strive to live a few more weeks as pain free as possible. Prayer seems to be a pretty good antidote (in between the morphine and methadone!).
So many things I wanted to do that I will have to leave for others who follow behind. But that is the cycle of life.
If you’ve attended an NCDD conference you probably know Taylor. She’s a firecracker (that’s the best word I know for Taylor), with boundless energy and enthusiasm for public dialogue work. You certainly know Taylor if you’re involved with National Issues Forums, as Taylor is an absolute star in the NIF network, having (among other things) co-founded and directed Texas Forums, an initiative of the LBJ Presidential Library and Museum.
Taylor has been a wonderfully active member of NCDD, and served as the Secretary of our Board of Directors for the past couple of years. She was instrumental in planning the 2008 NCDD conference in Austin (she lives near Austin in Salado, TX), and she was a key member of the planning team for the Austin regional NCDD workshop in October 2010 until she learned of her cancer and needed to pull back on some of her many commitments. She also ran a National Issues Forum event for conference participants and locals on the final day of the 2004 NCDD conference in Denver, Colorado.
Even with stage 4 kidney cancer, Taylor is more productive than most of us! An email from Patty Dineen on the 17th included this update:
Meanwhile, Taylor continues pretty much full speed ahead, working online, teaching her online university course (via computer in her hospital room), to the point that her family and hospital staff conspired to put a time limit on her “connected” activities so she will rest. She has the support and presence of her husband Terry, her parents, and other family and friends there with her, and her doctors have put together a team to oversee her treatments and care. I’m not sure who the doctors believe to be leading the team, but I’m pretty sure that it is really Taylor.
If you know Taylor, please take a minute to add a brief note of appreciation and encouragement as a comment below. I know she’d love to hear from a lot of NCDDers!