Life is Good, No Matter What

On Thursday, November 17, 2011, I attended the funeral of Holly Sneider (1972 – 2011). I had never met Holly, I only knew her parents and don’t live close enough to them that we see them often. But when we did meet up with Holly’s parents, at family reunions or the occasional meet-ups at my mother-in-law’s house, there was a connection there — a feeling that I’d like to get to know them better. I liked them a lot and hoped they felt the same. They seemed to think about things the way I do.

In April of 2010, Holly was diagnosed with Stage IV colon cancer, already in the liver. As Christopher Hitchens notes wryly when speaking of his own cancer, “There is no Stage V”. Holly was a fighter, and she had a husband and three children, and decided cancer wasn’t going to beat her, not without a fight. And she gave it her very best shot. Reading her Caring Bridge page left me with a knot in my stomach, that anyone could go through so much agony. But she didn’t want to leave her children without a mother, her husband without a wife, her parents without their daughter, and her brothers without their sister.

She thought of other people before herself, and throughout her battle never lost her faith, and she never lost her will to live. Some people seem to especially touch those around them and Holly was one of those. Her illness affected the entire small town of Milan, Ohio where she lived.

As her brother said, at the funeral, It’s not how it begins, it’s how it ends that matters. Holly was brave to the end, and she inspired a whole lot of people to think about what she was doing and because of her, that they might find the strength to do the same if the need arises. And her brother admitted that he thought he’d be a better person, that he would be better equipped to handle the bad stuff in his life, because of Holly and the example she’d set.

Though she only lived 39 years, she had made a difference. Just having her around that long was a gift to everyone who knew her. At the funeral home, the line of people who wanted to pay their respects, to tell the family what Holly had meant to them, stretched out the door and down the block. Some people stood in line for two hours.

It is always deeply tragic when someone so young is taken from us, especially by a disease as insidious as cancer. Cancer sucks. There is no doubt about it. It scares me worse than anything else, yet statistics say other afflictions kill people more often, heart disease and even the flu. But a diagnosis of cancer is a life-changing event, even if you do beat it, you aren’t really, ever the same.

If only Holly could have beat it, she’d never have been the same. No, her body would have been forever damaged by the effects of the massive amounts of chemo she took, but she would have been okay with that. I picture her as becoming a life-long cancer fundraiser, or a cancer counselor, perhaps. If she’d been able to beat her own, she’d have probably devoted the rest of her life to helping others do the same.

She was an inspiration to all who knew her. True to form, her motto was:

Life is good, no matter what!

Holly Sneider, 1972 – 2011.

11 thoughts on “Life is Good, No Matter What

  1. You said it . . . cancer sucks. This past year too many of my loved ones have been diagnosed . . . my boyfriend . . . carcinoid, my mother . . . breast cancer, my sister . . . ovarian cancer. I don’t know about the statistics, but in my corner of the universe, it is the monster in the closet.

    My thoughts go out to Holly’s family and friends.

  2. Miss DR, Thank you so much for visiting. I know you are really busy lately, answering all the comments that come your way via Freshly Pressed. True to your blog content, you have done what you advise others to do. I thank you very much.

    Yes, cancer sucks. I hope for the best outcomes for your boyfriend, your mother, and your sister.

  3. Hi Lynn,
    This is Troy Haslinger, brother of Holly. Wow! I can’t thank you enough for your kind article about sister Holly. While cancer does suck, it also has given my family an opportunity to look at life and people completely different. We look at this in a very positive manner. Believe me, we wish Holly never would have been diagnosed and expired because of cancer. However, so much love, compassion and knowledge has come out because of Holly’s battle. I will never believe my sister lost her battle to cancer as I believe she enhanced everyones lives because of cancer. I, like u want a cure in the worst way.

    I would like to honor Holly every year in Mlan to enhance cancer awareness and help families affected. I have not come up with a title, but you can be sure it will revolve around “life is good no matter what”

    Stay in touch and thanks again!

    • Troy, I am really pleased that you liked what I had to say about your sister. I normally post something on Fridays, and couldn’t think about anything but Holly so I just decided to write about her. I loved what you and Tony had to say about her, you were eloquent and entertaining, and gave everyone some insight as to what kind of person Holly was. I only wish I had known her, as she was truly an inspiration to so many.

      To honor Holly by enhancing cancer awareness in her name would be a wonderful thing, and would be supported by all the people who mourn her, which is the whole town of Milan.

      How can I get a Team Holly tee-shirt?

      Thanks, Troy, for this lovely comment!

  4. Lynn,
    Thank you very much for your kind words about our daughter Holly. I have been pretty good with not crying since last Thursday, but your article changed that. I am amazed at how much accurate imformation you were able to gather about Holly in such a short amount of time and how well you presented it.

    The village of Milan is just wonderful. I have been telling everyone who will listen, that this has got to be the very best place to live in Ohio because it pulls together to help each other out. It is amazing the support that Holly and Steve have gotten from the diagnosis to now.

    Thanks again, Lynn Give my regards to Roger and Aunt Rosie

    Ken Haslinger and
    Cindy Haslinger

    • Ken and Cindy, I was surprised that the article was found by the family, or I might have asked for permission before I just took off sharing my views. I sincerely hope it is okay that I did.

      Holly was an inspiration and the number of people who came to honor her is a testament to that. I was very moved by the service and then I came home and read her Caring Bridge journal and was so impressed by everything I learned there. She was unique in her strength.

      I hope you both will find peace. Roger and I are thinking of you, and talk about you daily.


  5. Lynn- thank you for such an amazing depiction of Holly. This is Steve Sneider, Holly’s husband. Her story and personality really brought her family, friends, and an entire community together. She was truly an amazing person who immediately touched those around her with her attitude. Her kindness was contageous, and she will never be forgotten. Your words mean so much to the Sneider and Haslinger families. Thanks again, Steve.

    • Steve, thanks for your kind comment. I appreciate what you’ve said here. Holly was a very special person, to have connected with so many people around her. People who were pulling for her, and who now, because of her, can hope to be more like she was, when faced with such adversity. That she never gave up, fought to the end, I find that part truly inspiring. Because of Holly, I think many others will go on to have a bit more courage in dealing with what they have to face in life.

      Thanks again, Lynn

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