Remembering Beth Caldwell

Beth Caldwell died earlier this month from metastatic breast cancer. She was 41 years old.

Beth had many gifts–she was smart, very funny and a galvanizing force. I know I am not alone in still expecting one of her Facebook bulletins in all caps: YOU GUYS!!!

Beth was a born leader–heaven’s gain is Washington’s loss–we can only imagine what Senator Caldwell might have accomplished.

In recent weeks, many of Beth’s family, friends and colleagues have shared their memories. There were photos of Beth with her fellow Girl Scouts, high school friends, marching band friends and play group friends. There were college photos, wedding party photos and newborn baby photos and  epic family vacation photos.

I knew Beth as as advocate rallying her fellow patients and demanding to be heard–but she was so much more than that.

I don’t think you could easily categorize Beth…she would likely have agreed with Mark Twain that under certain circumstances profanity provides a relief denied even to prayer…if I were her, I would have listed that in my LinkedIn profile: Fluent in swearing.

But I think it was largely a rhetorical device–because Beth had such a huge heart. If the Girl Scouts gave Empathy merit badges Beth’s sash would be overcrowded…she wasn’t a religious person, but she was right there for the least of her brothers (and sisters). She did this personally (contributing to countless Go Fund Me campaigns) and as a citizen–she was truly invested and involved in her community.

Beth and I shared a love of old movies. I must concede Beth’s knowledge was far more encyclopedic than mine–she could have hosted her own Turner Classic Movies show. Like her, I loved “Singing in the Rain,” “All About Eve” and so many more.

Beth was like one of those movie heroines from the 40s or 50s…she had moxie. Like Judy Garland, she DID actually put on a show in her backyard. (Well, a concert, but close enough.)

Beth often spoke of actions in terms of their life saving potential for people with metastatic breast cancer, of people coming to save us.

I like the sound of this–that to the swelling of an uplifting and triumphant John Williams score, we could be swept to safety and live happily ever after.

What an awesome movie that would be.

Real life unfortunately seldom adheres to a neat script.

If you want to continue Beth’s work, please consider supporting this memorial fund at Fred Hutch.

Beth’s family will receive a card notifying them of every donation–I know it would mean so much to them–please support this fund.



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