A 45-year-old mother of four kids ages 13, 10, 8 and 4 passed away on Wednesday, July 15 from colon cancer.
It’s a jarring statement, and one that made even more impact on me because I knew her. Kim Freitag was one of the few people I could count as a personal friend I made while living in Dallas. Sure, I met my husband there and many friends through him; but, Kim was all mine.
We worked together at the Superconducting Super Collider and she’s the only one I worked with there that I kept in touch with over the years. I have a framed photo of us, and the rest of our department, that didn’t scan very well, but it looks like we are all standing inside this photo. We never did get to really go down in there because Congress chose not to fund the project. <cough> shortsighted <cough>
Over the years since then, Kim and I had progressed to being what I call “Christmas card friends.” We each moved to new cities and states and didn’t see each other outside of photos. But, I will always remember her as the one who said 16 years ago when I proudly showed off the dove tattoo I just gotten on my stomach: “You know that thing is going to become a pterodactyl when you get pregnant.” Ha!
Not thinking at that time that I would ever have children, I didn’t worry too much. But, Kim was thinking of that and together with her husband Randy she went on to bring four fantastic kids into the world. I’ve never actually met them, but I know they are fantastic because of her.
I said earlier that Kim was “my” friend, but after Randy called to tell me of her diagnosis last year and started to keep us updated of her battle through the Care Pages site, I discovered that I certainly didn’t have her all to myself. Kim evidently left a mark on everyone she touched, and she made it a point to touch many. I can tell from the hundreds of comments, words of encouragement and more that all of them posted every time Randy would update us.
If you are like me, you are under what I now hear is a common misperception that colon cancer is a “man’s disease.” But apparently it ranks as the third most common cause of cancer deaths in women. All that fiber they tell us we should be eating … one of the reasons why is that they think it can play a role in prevention.
The sound of screenings like “digital rectal examination” and “flexible sigmoidosopic examination” or the dreaded colonoscopy are enough to scare anyone away from means of early detection.
But if you are 40 (like I find myself nearing) or older, don’t avoid it. Then all of us can share in the impact Kim has long after she has physically left this world.