As my life comes to an end, I want to thank readers of this blog (and our Caring Bridge site for reading all that I have written while I deal with ALS. I’m sure some of what I wrote was difficult to read, some of what I wrote helped others, while other pieces just made you think. This blog will be up awhile — and some ambitious person might turn it into a book. If you think of others who might benefit from anything I’ve written, please send it along to them.
I have been blessed to lead a rich life, full of love and culture and travel and work that had meaning for me. I have no regrets except that I got ALS in the first place.
I have met amazing people both in person and on-line. Everyone I have come in contact with has had something unique to offer the world. The world is a better place because these people are or were in it. Some of these people I have mentored (and you know who you are), others have taught me. What I know about all of these people is that I have been blessed to know them, and that they will succeed at what they set their hearts and minds to do.
In the Jewish tradition there is a Priestly Blessing. I copy below it because it is what I wish for all readers of these words:
May the Lord bless you
and keep you;
May the Lord make his face shine on you
and be gracious to you;
May the Lord turn his face toward you
and give you peace.
© Barbara A. Brenner 2113
I love you, Barbara. You are in my heart as is Susie.
Your old friend,
Barbara, I am trying to imagine this world without you here to stir things up. It’s near impossible to think I won’t be reading your take on all the craziness.
I wish you peace and freedom from the bondage of this mortal body, my friend. I harbor no doubt that your spirit will soar into the next great adventure.
Thank you for your advocacy and I will drink a toast to you at Chuy’s
Barbara and Susie, I feel so lucky that we got to visit at Navarro. You are both in my thoughts and prayers.
Barbara, I have just come to know you on this post because Nancy shared you with us. You are a beautiful soul and you are in my thoughts and prayers. Hugs and xoxoxo- Susan
Thank you for all you have done to bring attention to breast cancer.
Every time I’ve been at a service since you’ve gotten ill I have done a misheberach for you. Although healing of body did not happen, you clearly did not need healing of spirit. Your strength, courage, wisdom, and soul will live forever among those who know you.
Love to you and Susie.
Thank you so much, Harriet.
Thank you Barbara, your advocacy has been inspIrational. I am grateful to have gotten to meet you and learn about Breast Cancer Action. Blessings back to you.
You are and will always be an inspiration to me. Thank you for teaching me to fight.
It has been difficult to read only because we love you so much. It’s your clarity and honesty that drew me to you, which continues to be reflected in the way you have openly shared your feelings and experiences. Sad and painful to read but bringing with it a deep sense of ongoing connection to you and to Susie. Dave and I reach out to embrace you both. We feel blessed to share your friendship.
With love and support,
Nancy and Dave
Thank yu so much, Nancy.
I would like to take this opportunity to just say what a wonderful woman and what an amazing Aunt you are and have been and I’m so glad that i got to spend time with you around the holidays when all the family was together. I will never forget all the great conversations we had and will never forget all the important things you told me about life. I’m truely going to miss you and love you very much!! In closing I will simply say that this isn’t goodbye but more of a see you soon!!
Dearest Barbara. I am so blessed to have known you. I will miss your courage, your fight, your grace, and your smile. I will carry you in my heart forever. I love you. John
Thank you so much, John. I’m sorry that I will not see you if you come in July, but Susie will be thrilled by your visit. Thank you for providing my East Coast home for all those years I travelled for BCA. I cherish our friendship.
Thank you for all you have done to make a difference in breast cancer by pushing the envelope. I always admired your courage and tenacity. You were a great inspiration to me. I hate this dreadful disease had to happen to someone like you. Peace.
Barbara, thank you for your courage, strength, and powerful words of truth. I am blessed to have known you. Love to you and Susie.
Barbara, we have been blessed to have known you. You have inspired, aggravated and spurred many to action in the fight for just causes. May your soul soar and may your beloved Suzie find comfort in the knowing of the love that you had, have and will always have for her. Shalom my friend.
You have lived through your illness with ALS as the inspirational fighter and advocate you have always been. I have immense respect for your courage and your ability to consistently advocate for justice. Thank you for all you do and have done for our world. Patrick, Avni, Aisha, and I send our love and prayers.
Thank you so much Bhavna.
Thank you for teaching me about honesty, advocacy and loving life each day. That started back when we were counting ballots for Donna Hitchens for Judge and has continue to this day. I am so grateful for all you have done for me and others.
I have admired and loved you for a long time. May you feel peace and love. I hold you and Susie in my heart now and always. Go Giants. Go Barbara.
Thank you Joyce.
Barbara, written with the dignity which you have maintained throughout your illness. Our world will be a lesser place without your spirit. We will take good care of Suzie. Shalom, Chaver.
Thanks so much Terry.
You are a model and inspiration to me and will always be so.
Thank you so much Glen.
Susan and I send you both much soul and light. We love you and love your relationship too. Holding you with gratitude.
Thank you both.
I am so very sorry to read that this is your final post. Thank you for sharing your story, your struggles, your passion, your energy. Many, many, many people are, and will continue to be, touched by your words, your heart, your insights, your activism.
Blessed peace be with you.
Barbara, you are amazing. Funny. Strong. Angry. Gets the word out. Gets things done. Doesn’t sugar coat. Expresses truth to power. I don’t know you as a friend but your efforts and words have affected my life and I’ve followed them, engaged them and passed them to young women through my teaching of feminism, health activism, and any chance I get. Thank you. I will keep doing so as long as I can and they will continue do the work… Because of you. It will continue. Peace to you and your amazing partner and family.
Thank you for your love and kindness and spirit, and for always challenging me to look at things in a different way. From a favorite prayer: Support us all the day long, until the shadows lengthen, and the evening comes, and the busy world is hushed, and the fever of life is over, and our work is done. Then grant us a safe lodging, and a holy rest, and peace at the last.
Barbara, I am so grateful I had the opportunity to work with you for two years at BCA. Thank you for teaching me about maintaining impeccable ethics and fighting fearlessly for justice. I send you and Susie strength and peace. I will always remember you.
Barbara, thanks for all that you shared, in person and in writing, during these recent months. So many people have spoken, here and at various events in your honor, of how you have inspired. For me, it’s your uncanny ability to exist on multiple planes at the same time; as a candid, straightforward, dynamically intelligent, clever person offering political commentary, as a die-hard Giants fan sharing play-by-play (it was your FB page I have some to check even before the radio), and also as a powerfully reflective, self-aware spiritual person in service to your community of friends and readers, all of us striving to keep up with you (and with Susie) in this journey. Your last words in this post, captioning the picture, written with a smile and a wink. Wow. Love and respect forever.
Thanks so much Karen.
I’m so much richer for having known you. I think we learned a lot from each other during our time together at CBCRP. “Our” vest is as colorful and complex as you are and I will wear it to honor you and your amazing life-and with great fondness.
Barbara, I am grateful beyond words for you. Go in peace and feel the love that surrounds you, that is you, that is all of us. Shine on dear friend.
Thank you, Barbara, for letting us know. Once again I am moved by your thoughtfulness and intention. I am thinking of you with much love. You will stay with me always.
And I know you will carry on. Thank you Sammi.
I am so pleased to see this so richly-deserved outpouring of love for you and acknowledgment of the role you have played in changing the nature of our conversation about disease. And so grateful that something of your irrepressible spirit has been captured forever on celluloid (or whatever the digital equivalent of celluloid might be). Bless you.
Thank you so much Ellen. Susie would love to hear from you.
Thank you for what you have written here. Meeting you changed my life. And words cannot express how thankful I am for that. You have inspired and educated so many people about so much (myself included). Your courage to stand up, speak out, and hold tight to your convictions has changed this world for the better. You will be missed. With much respect and admiration.
Our lives are blessed by having you in it my dear friend. You are love and loved. Many blessings. And hugs. Elizabeth
Thank you ECP.
Barbara, I have only known you and Susie a very short time at the Shul. Ech time you brought joy into my life. My thougts and prayers are with you.
All my love,
Thank you Donna.
When I was recovering from a mastectomy last year, I saw you on the trailer for Pink Ribbons, Inc. Your fearless brand of honesty (the only kind that really is honest) inspired me to ask questions, to talk back. You have created so many of Bobby Kennedy’s ripples of truth:
“Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and those ripples build a current which can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.”
Thank you for every time you stood up. Your barbs will be missed.
I wish you peace.
Barbara, you continue teaching so many of us until the very end. This post might be your most courageous one yet.
You are the person who taught me the phrase “speaking truth to power” and also showed how to do it with heart, mind, spirit and power. Your legacy lives in many, many of us, and also in the thousands and thousands of women and families who have benefited from your work.
Thank you, Shalom, love to you and Susie,
Thank you for this message and farewell. I am so grateful to know you and to have learned from you through your many years of being a leader. Grateful that your ideas, so generously shared are still shaping my thoughts and actions. Holding you with me in my heart.
Barbara, I am holding you in my heart, wishing you peace in this moment. And filled with gratitude for the privilege of knowing you and being able to witness what it means to be an advocate — for breast cancer, for social justice, for a life well lived. Thank you for the gift of you.
For opening my eyes… thank you. May the four winds blow you safely home. ~Amy~
Oh Barbara! I will remember you for many things: Our youth with the Cafe Commons softball team as well as many a trip in an orange kayak down the river. I will remember your laugh, your wit, your fire and your mind. And let me not forget to mention your incredible relationship with Susie. I wish you peace and love.
Grace and courage burn bright in your life and in your death.
I am so grateful to have known you as a dear friend and colleague for nearly 40 years.
With great love and affection,
Dear Barbara –
I believe I met you and Andrea and Merijane at Kingston, Ontario, all those years ago. You were so encouraging to me then and since. You have done such good work and you have been such an inspiration and role model.
It is totally unfair that you have suffered with and now will die from ALS.
My heart goes out to you and Susie. May your journey be peaceful and your reward secure. May Susie rest in the arms of Love.
Barbara, we have never met, but I will truly miss your voice in the breast cancer advocacy movement. Following your career has been a joy and inspiration to me and many, many others. You have done so much for women with breast cancer, and now for people with ALS. It’s inspiring to see you know you have made an indelible mark on the world and have lived a rich, full life, with no regrets. The world is, indeed, a better place because you are in it. Godspeed, and I wish you peace in your coming days.
Thank you for your courage, your truthful and compassionate witness. May the God of love and justice bless and keep you this day– and yes even forever.
I hope your passing is a peaceful one — rest assured that your righteous anger about corporate influence over healthcare (and other things) and government inaction is alive in my heart and will continue to be channelled to making change. A la luta continua, el pueblo unido jamas sera vencido.
Thank you for being my first real boss and teaching me so much about the world. You are such a brave, smart woman and have done so much for everyone with your work and words. Your work will continue through others and your spirit will live on. I wish you and Susie peace.
Barbara, your spirit will live on forever in the lives you’ve touched, like Susan Lila Stone and the other mothers sisters friends who have gone before. Blessings to you!
Thank you for all that you have said and done to make people’s lives a little better. You will not be forgotten.
Thank you for your clear and inspirational honesty, drive and passion. You have touched and educated so many = you have made a difference. I’m grateful that our paths crossed and interwove that day at the Magic Theater.
I wish both you and Susie peace and love. You will be shined upon.
We have never met but for a long time I’ve admired your advocacy, persistence and courage to “stir things up.” From one advocate to another, you made a difference and showed many of us how to keep the fires of advocacy burning bright and strong.
I have followed your work and have been inspired by your tenaciousness and willingness to step out to places where others would not. Thank you for everything.
Love and peace to you, your family and friends.
Thank you for telling your truths, Barbara. You have truly made a difference to so many, including me. Love and peace to you.
It was hard not to be transfixed by your power to influence, to guide, to inspsire, especially as a young environmental health advocate. I feel honored to have worked with you, honored to have sat at the same tables as you, and honored to carry your passion for health and justice in my heart each and every day.
With many blessings,
Dear Barbara – your wisdom, courage, and heart will live long after your body lays down its heavy burden. You have made a difference – to so many people and in so many ways. I have so much respect and admiration for you – and I pray that whatever time you have left is in peace, without pain, and full of love.
You have lit a path for so many – on lesbian/gay rights, on breast cancer, and now on ALS. I will miss your voice, in all its permutations, including your fabulous commentary about our beloved Giants. (And, I am hoping, even as I’m writing this, that you just heard Barry Zito getting a hit and RBI against the Phillies.)
Barb. yours is a life well lived. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.
with love and support for you, Susie, and all whom you hold close,
We knew this day would come – but still your message comes too soon and leaves us with the feeling of a great loss. Thank you for all your work. Your teaching and your good spirit will also stay with us here on the other side of the Atlantic. May the Lord bless you and your beloved ones, too. Shalom, Barbara.
Gudrun + Beate
No words are adequate. I have always admired you…from our earliest ACLU days on. You showed me the way then and you show me the way now. And so does Susie. You will always be a part of me.
With much love and admiration,
You have inspired me with your courage, your candor and your compassion. A bright light will go out in the world when you leave us, but you’ve taught us how to light a thousand candles in its place. God bless you.
Much love to you and Susie, dear friends–
I’m a better advocate, fighter, boss, partner, and friend from knowing you. You have taught me about getting to the truth of stories, and holding others accountable for doing the same. And you have educated so many of us about ALS by sharing your story so intimately with all of us. You have left no stone unturned in leaving this world a little better than you found it. I am so incredibly grateful to have known and worked with you. I’ve missed you since my last day in the BCA offices, but you will always be in my heart.
With love and appreciation,
How fortunate I am to have met you through my time with Breast Cancer Action Montreal and Prevention First. I have wonderful memories and photos of that long weekend in Boston with the incredible Prevention First gang, and of your trip with Susie to Montreal to give the first Lanie Melamud memorial lecture for Breast Cancer Action Montreal. I always remember the great parenting advice you gave me (before we ever met) during a conference call. You heard me tell my then young daughter to stop using bad language and quickly advised me that those so-called bad words would probably come in handy for her one day. You were funny and you were right! Thanks for so much, Barbara. I have loved reading this blog and have shared it with many.
Thank you for sharing so much -your intellect, your spirit, your heart, your courage and your wonderful sense of humour. I feel so very happy and blessed that our paths crossed. Hugs to you and Susie.
Love and peace,
p.s. There is always a place for Susie to stay in Montreal.
I have known you since I was a little girl…I have loved
And admired you ever since our first meeting. So many
Of my childhood memories are filled with you
And Susie and my aunt Kathy. I dearly love you and
I will miss you in our world.
Know that I will always share your life and your beautiful
legacy with my own children.
My love to you – Maria
Thank you for your help, caring, and support. My life would not be what it is today without you.
May peace and love surround you and your beloved Susie.
From the day I met you I was inspired by your strength, wisdom, grace and courage.
So many of the words already sent your way express my thoughts of you as an individual and as a source of great power in our crazy world, I’m sending you a poem I wrote last fall.
With much love and gratitude,
We are the ones…
We are the ones they warned us about.
We are the ones they fear.
We are the bad girls
& the good girls gone bad.
Hell, we’re the good girls, too.
We are the ones they warned us about,
the ones they didn’t want us to become,
the loud ones,
the ones with opinions & with deserts we share
with whoever & whenever we want
the ones who stride,
not mincing our steps any more than we mince our words,
the ones deemed too mannish
in our visual appearance
or our management style,
the ones who reject unwanted advances
& don’t care what anyone thinks
about who or what or how we are.
We are the ones they warned us about,
taking matters into our own hands
making decisions with our own well-being in mind,
community in mind, world in mind,
taking space wherever we are,
just enough to breathe freely,
to be physically & psychically as ease,
to walk country paths & city streets lost in thought
while aware of all that is around us,
taking our time in making decisions or answering questions,
being bold in claiming our right to do so.
We are the ones they warned us about,
the ones they didn’t want us to become,
the ones feared through millenia,
called witches or whores
depending on their need – or their strategy –
for getting rid of us.
We are the ones they warned us about,
they have much to fear.
We will stay in our power,
hold our own,
claim & take our space,
& make as much trouble
for the status quo
as we possibly can
& share all we’ve learned for generations to come.
~ L.A. Hyder
I am so moved by your words, and so happy and blessed that I got to know you. You were a wonderful boss, leader, and activist. I think I am in shock that your life is ending, but please know that I will treasure every memory I have of you.
Unique to the end. With admiration and love for Babasuse.
Unique to the end. Love and admiration for babasuse.
I am sorry that your time here is ending and amazed that you can tell us this and let us reflect and wish you what my people call godspeed. We can hardly spare your vision, clarity, and tenacity from this world. You changed the conversation about breast cancer and prevention and research and what to pay attention to and what not; few can say so much and see ripples travel so far. I have learned many lessons and promise to bring them forward in my realms as best I can, in your memory and in service. You have inspired many and in tangible and practical ways — an inspiration for a troubled yet beautiful world. It makes it no easier to say goodbye. Much love to you and all of yours always.
Barbara, you’ve been such an inspirationto me–ever since I was blessed to meet you through our work on the Breast Cancer Research Council. Thank you for your clear vision, sense of justice, wisdom, and humor.
With much love, appreciation, and admiration,
Barbara, thank you for all you’ve done to make this world a better place. Thank you for teaching me the importance of “staying fierce.” You are truly one of a kind and it has been an absolute honor to know you and work with you. I will carry you with me in all that I do to help heal the world.
With love and gratitude,
Barbara was one of our Earliest supporters She helped us develop mission and goals.
I met Barbara and Susie many years ago in San Francisco. We both lived in Noe Valley, perhaps that is how we met; I really don’t remember. We had law in common: I was a legal assistant in the SF City Attorney’s Office and worked briefly with you and Donna Hitchens in your office. Somehow we lost touch and the years have gone by. I was saddened to read in today’s New York Times that Barbara had died. I came to this web site, which gave me – more than the Times – a feeling for the work Barbara has done and its effect on others. I cannot say more or differently than others have said here about Barbara and her life. I am in awe. Susie, to you, my condolences and hopes that your life will continue to unfold as best as you can make it. Love and hugs, Elizabeth
Thank you Barbara for your help, I am a caregiver in Toronto Canada and I found your web page while looking for some information. I see sadly you have passed away several years ago. I wanted to let the people around you know that you continue to help and inspire! Many thanks for your help you seem like a lovely soul. Ingrid