A tribute to Patsy Bushee
by Ann Haehn
I remember the first time I heard Patsy’s voice – melodic and genteel, with a slow-paced inflection that lengthened vowels and employed southern colloquialisms. Many, many times during our interviews, she called me honey, and I thought her the loveliest Southern belle with whom I’d ever spoken.
I spent hours over several months talking to Patsy on the phone, asking her to share with me her experience going through transplant. Her story was to be the lead in a collection of approximately twenty short stories about MF SCT survivors. She was my pilot candidate, and she was incredibly excited to participate in the book project. And so, I honor Patsy the best way that I know how, and that is to share with you some cherished snippets from our interviews. Aspects, tidbits, and oddities that she wanted others to know about her.
Patsy was a retired English teacher who was happily married to the love of her life, Charlie, for over 42 years. Patsy spoke often about Charlie, what a wonderful husband he was, and how blessed she felt to have him and her children in her life. She spoke deeply and affectionately about her daughter Robyn, her donor sister Janet, her other siblings, and the many friends and church members who supported her. She asked that her section in the book to be dedicated to Janet.
Charlie was an officer in the military, so Patsy had the benefit of traveling throughout Europe during some of his assignments. But the one trip she desired, going to Alaska, had to be postponed, and in the end, never happened. Cancer interrupts life.
Although Patsy studied and taught English her entire career, her favorite book wasn’t a Shakespearean play. Instead, it was Jesus Calling, by Sarah Young. She had a profound and abiding faith in God. She told me that her faith enabled her to take what would come, and that cancer, transplant, and post-transplant experiences only served to strengthen her faith. Her parting words to me about her faith were, “Jesus has always been there for me.”
Patsy liked Tai Chi, lemon-filled donuts, and The Sound of Music. She never lost her craving for coffee, even through transplant when coffee typically is the last beverage desired. When presented with the option of a gray wig or another choice, Patsy opted for the younger route. “Honey,” she said to me, “I went auburn and it is down to my shoulders.”
Although Patsy was a proper Baptist woman who maintained deep-rooted spiritual beliefs, she was by no means a wet noodle when it came to taking action regarding her health. She was told she had months to live without a transplant and only a 30% chance of survival with a transplant. When presented with these facts, she shared with me that she broke down several times. In fact, I think we both shed tears together during this part of the interview. But then Patsy told me she reached for her faith, finding strength again even while she fretted about her husband and daughter, wondering if they would be okay without her should she not survive. Still, she went through transplant believing she made the right choice and she fervently wanted others to know that older people could do the same. Patsy became a passionate advocate for SCT, as some of her previous postings in MPN Forum attest.
Patsy would have been 65 this year. September 16 is her birthday – the same day her daughter Robyn was born. She adored this daughter, who was one of her primary caregivers, just as she adored her husband. She was so incredibly happy to be able to meet her new grandchild as well. Our hearts hurt for her family’s loss . . . and for our loss too. Thank you, Patsy, for the gift you gave all of us. The gift of honesty, hope, faith and belief. God’s speed into the next realm. We’ll be seeing you again someday, Honey.