Valerie Fenton - Notre Dame Academy

Processing the loss of my high school friend Karen to cancer. 

I am beyond angry, Karen. I really thought that even with the diagnosis, that you were the one to beat that Monster -- your defiance, your laughter in the face of it, the positive energy you surrounded yourself with -- friends, family, colleagues, and creativity. Now I regret not telling you that after experiencing some red flags, I got a colonoscopy recently -- because you and your work to highlight the increase in young people getting colon cancer, lit a fire under my figurative and literal bum to take my health seriously. I took my health more seriously because of YOU.

I hadn't seen Karen in years, but when we were in high school, she was my point of reference at that young age for what an actress should be. Oh, I looked up to her.... Her honesty onstage. Her connection with her scene partners. She listened. She responded. She existed in the moment. She was real. Karen, I think you played a part back then in the actress I am today.

Thank you for your professional inspiration when we were teenagers, and your life-saving inspiration decades later. The world is SO MUCH BETTER with you having been in it.

To everyone reading this -- a reminder: Life. Is. Short. Find your bliss. Take nothing for granted. MAKE AN IMPACT on your world -- your society, your community. Leave this world better off than how you found it.

And in Karen's name, Check Your Bum!! We are dying younger and younger from colon cancer. Recognize the warning signs that something may not be right, and do not ignore them! The people who love you will thank you for it.

#TheLegacyofKarenWalsh #80by2018