This is a sad and difficult day for me, following a number of sad and difficult weeks. Many of you knew Harriet Berman who died on Wednesday from a rare variant of endometrial cancer. She had been treated for breast cancer in 1998, and that was successful. What an irony and how unfair to survive one cancer and then have a second one that is lethal.
Harriet was the Program Manager and the heart of The Wellness Community for many years. When it closed, she led the effort to create Facing Cancer Together, thinking always of the participants and staff who loved the center and each other. She and I were close friends and, after she the joined The Wellness Community, professional colleagues who depended upon and learned from each other. She was a wonderful,loving, very special woman, and her death leaves the world a little bleaker. Her life, however, enriched the world, and she leaves a remarkable legacy.
Here is the beginning of her obituary in today's Globe, and then a link to read more about her and her life:
As a clinical psychologist whose patients had been diagnosed with cancer, Harriet Kasloff Berman knew better than most therapists that every word spoken about illness has the power to heal minds, even as bodies fail.
Having traveled hospital halls as a cancer patient, she had a perspective few brought to the field of psycho-oncology.
"I am so aware of the cultural reticence to speak of cancer and death,'' she wrote in 2004. "Yet over time, as people find the language to do so and allow others into their reality, the benefits on all sides are profound. The person who is ill or dying has the gift of the presence of others and the comfort they can give. And those around the ill person have the gift of being able to reach out, express their feelings, and learn.''
Dr. Berman, who also taught at the Massachusetts School of Professional Psychology, died Wednesday in her Dover home. She was 63 and had previously lived for many years in Newton.
Diagnosed in 1998 with breast cancer, she was successfully treated before becoming ill a few years ago with endometrial cancer.
"She felt a calling to help individuals with cancer," said her husband, Stanley Berman,dean of advanced graduate study programs at the Massachusetts School of Professional Psychology. "I think this interest was not just responding to her own health history. She really felt most in her element when she was doing cancer-related work."