The myeloma community lost one of its titans in December. June Brazil passed away quietly on December 17th, with her son Jessie at her side. June was a fantastic friend and "partner in crime" to the Unknown Patient, working tirelessly and without fanfare to help everyone she could, even when she herself was struggling with the ravages of end-stage disease.
June was a very special person who helped tens of thousands of fellow patients via her leadership and acts of kindness. She helped found on-line, in-person and phone support groups dedicated to helping people get the information and support to help them battle myeloma. June was also a very active fundraiser, inspiring people to support the IMF and its programs.
Working with IMF Board member Michael Katz, she founded the myeloma listserv, which now has almost 1300 myeloma and amyloid patients linked via an e-mail discussion group. It was unknown to most that June carried on extensive sidebar email and phone conversations with an incredible number of the people she met via the listserv and support groups. When she passed away, the Unknown Patient was overwhelmed by the outpouring of love from the many people June had helped. What follows is a small sampling:
"June was an inspiration to all of us, tireless in her dedication to helping other patients, always upbeat and ready with a mischievous joke even when she was hurting inside. I will miss her dearly and we will all need to work that much harder to fill the enormous vacuum left by her untimely death. People like June cannot be said to die, for their memory burns brightly within the enormous number of people they have helped and inspired."
"Her death would have been untimely if she had lived to be 100. In my experience there are givers and there are takers in life. The givers ask for no reward or compensation. They give because of their innate goodness. June was the ultimate giver. What made June so unique was that not only was she a giver she was unbelievably knowledgeable, wise, and effective. Her help was not special just because it was so freely offered, it was special as well because it was so wise. I feel so divested not only for June's wonderful family but for all of us as well. No one of us will be able to take her place but perhaps together we can try."
"I need to say goodbye to a friend whom I never met, though we talked about meeting; who helped me more than anyone else in relation to this illness, though she was far more afflicted by it than I have been. I used to open my e-mail looking forward to a message from June, or if not, then to the fun of writing one. I never thought these would end this month, and the gap it leaves in my life is real and painful. I'm awed, reading the tributes to her on the List, by how many people she found time to write to in a way that drew them to her. June's intellect and understanding helped people so much - it was like having another doctor, except that this one answered within the hour. We're going to miss that, and it would be wrong to underestimate it. She put my treatment on the right track more than once, and must have done the same for many others. I am so sorry I won't be able to thank her again."
"God saw that she was getting tired And a cure was not to be;
So he put his arms around her
And whispered, 'Come with me.'
With tearful eyes, in silence,
We saw her fade away.
Although we loved her dearly,
We could not make her stay.
A golden heart stopped beating,
Hard working hands laid to rest.
God broke our hearts to prove to us He only takes the best."
June also worked tirelessly as a member of the Board of Directors of the Association of Cancer Online Resources (ACOR) and as a member of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Cancer Advisory Panel on Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAPCAM). She also developed the "Multiple Myeloma Survivor Stories" web site at www.acor.org/mm, which offers detailed histories illustrating treatment strategies and lessons learned.
Beyond her myeloma community involvement, June was an outstanding contributor to the practice and profession of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine. June co-founded the Acupuncture Society of
New York (ASNY), and served as president from 1990 to 1995. From 1991 to 1994 she was a Commissioner on the National Commission for the Certification of Acupuncturists (NCCA) and a Governor and Fellow of the National Academy of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NAAOM), serving as President of the Academy during 1999.
We salute a true humanitarian and valiant fighter who turned her battle with myeloma into a inspiration for us all. Above all, we will miss her tireless dedication to helping others, her sweet voice and her mischievous sense of humor. Bravo June! c