We are sorry to share that Rebecca Del Galdo, our fellow Chicagoan and MBC patient, died on August 8, 2019 in St. Augustine, Florida.
Rebecca was 51 years old.
I first met Rebecca at a Young Survival Coalition conference in Houston. Rebecca and I were both in our 40s and among the “older” attendees. Rebecca easily could have passed for someone ten years younger–in appearance and spirit! Most of the attendees were people with early stage breast cancer–I really appreciated the support and company of another MBC patient.
Rebecca’s cancer story began in 2009. At age 41, she had her first mammogram and subsequently was diagnosed with Stage 1 breast cancer. Her family had no history of breast cancer–so this came as surprise. Her treatment went well and she assumed cancer was in her rear view mirror. But in July 2012, she learned her cancer was back and this time it was metastatic–she had a recurrence to her right lung.
Rebecca’s work colleagues at Integrated Project Management (IPM) were incredibly supportive of her and MBCN. They did their annual Project Mercy service initiative in support of MBCN. And then, during Chicago’s 2014 Columbus Day Parade, they brought awareness of the day and Stage IV breast cancer to the general public as they later marched in the massive downtown parade, all wearing “Stage IV Needs More” t shirts. It wasn’t just Rebecca’s immediate co-workers–their families came too–and they braved freezing temperatures and soaking rains. They were there for Rebecca–and all of us.
In 2014, Rebecca invited Shirley Mertz and I to join an IPM all-company luncheon. Before the event began, we chatted briefly outside the banquet room–Rebecca shared that her current treatment was no longer working. She was going to MD Anderson–and eventually she transferred her care there. I remember being impressed that Rebecca–who was on far harsher treatment than I–was not only continuing to do her job but was also now commuting to Texas for her treatments. I admired her spirit.
Rebecca also found time for patient advocacy. In October 2012, she wrote a letter to the editor of Wheaton’s online news outlet. Rebecca explained, that for people with Stage IV breast cancer, every month is breast cancer awareness month. She gave an excellent overview of the key MBC stats. She also offered a personal message:
“The month of October just happens to be more difficult for me because it is a reminder that awareness wasn’t enough,” she wrote. “If there’s one thing I wish people knew about my metastatic breast cancer experience, it’s how frightening it is to realize that my life will most likely be cut short because of this disease – no amount of treatment can make it go away – there is no cure.” As hard as my original diagnosis in 2009 was, it does not compare to how devastating my stage IV diagnosis was for my family and me this past July – our lives are forever changed. “
Rebecca shared her patient story at MBCN’s 2015 conference held at the University of North Carolina. It was there I met her husband, Chris, and I remember thinking what a lovely couple they made. A central theme of Rebecca’s story was hope and love. You only had to talk to her for a few minutes to see those qualities shining through.
Thank you Rebecca–for all you have done for MBCN and your fellow patients. You were such a special person. Our condolences to your family and friends.
Rebecca’s memorial service will be held Saturday the 24th of August, 2019 at 10:00 am at the Grace Church of Dupage – located at 27W344 Galusha Ave, Warrenville, IL 60555. See https://www.legacy.com/obituaries/name/rebecca-del-galdo-obituary?pid=193606725