Judy Jarvis was my best friend for 19 years. She was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer. If it matters, I never saw her smoke a cigarette; if it matters, her internist had failed to give her an annual chest X-ray. All that mattered to me, as I raced from Los Angeles to the hospital in Boston, was that my best friend was dying, and I was terrified. When I got there and introduced myself as her sister (close enough), the doctor was kindly, and scarily pessimistic. “We hope to get her home,” he told me before I surprised her by walking into the room. “They hope to get you home,” I said, almost as gravely as the doctor.

She laughed out loud and said: “I’m not going home to die. I’m going back to work.” Work was the radio station where she hosted a syndicated show five days a week.

Susan Estrich is a columnist with Creators Syndicate.

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