As many of you have already heard, former Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Wilma Pearl Mankiller has been diagnoses with stage 4 pancreatic cancer. Since it's been 15 years since she left office (1985-1995), many younger people know her as a speaker, author, and Beloved Woman, but appearing as a frail survivor. In her younger days growing up in San Francisco, she was an activist, and the photo I chose is from the early 1970's, when she was youthful, energetic, and about 27.
I had the good fortune to meet Chief Mankiller at the 2000 "Flames of Hope" Gala, the annual fundraiser for the American Indian College Fund. She had just endured a second kidney transplant. The first transplant, necessitated by a near-fatal car crash, had been destroyed by chemotherapy when she was first diagnosed with cancer. She was gracious, but looked very tired.
She has led a full life, and sends this statement:
“I decided to issue this statement because I want my family and friends to know that I am mentally and spiritually prepared for this journey; a journey that all human beings will take at one time or another. I learned a long time ago that I can’t control the challenges the Creator sends my way but I can control the way I think about them and deal with them. On balance, I have been blessed with an extraordinarily rich and wonderful life, filled with incredible experiences. And I am grateful to have a support team composed of loving family and friends. I will be spending my time with my family and close friends and engaging in activities I enjoy. It’s been my privilege to meet and be touched by thousands of people in my life and I regret not being able to deliver this message personally to so many of you. If anyone wants to send a message to me, it is best to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.”