It's been a little over two months now that Maggie Daley has been gone, but she is not forgotten -- especially by those of us in the Stage 4 cancer arena. We lost one of our own.
Margaret Corbett Daley, a Chicago icon, passed away from Stage 4 breast cancer on Thanksgiving Eve, 2011. Let us now reflect back on the life of this very charismatic woman who paved a huge path for her adopted city Chicago.
She is remembered as the wife of mayor Richard M. Daley and was at his side undauntedly for 22 years. Let us not forget the Daley name has been synonymous with our fair city for decades prior. Maggie was far from being part of that Daley stigma, she was her own strong force. It would be a dishoner not to acknowledge her charitable works. It is not only her devotion to charities that we praise, but also the dignity with which she carried herself while battling this horrific disease.
In 1991 she began her project "After School Matters" which is a non-profit group designed to promote after-school programs in the arts, science, sports and technology for children. This organization began as an offshoot of Gallery 37 which Maggie co-founded as an art program in a vacant lot in the loop. Gallery 37 is an innovative program that promotes arts training and jobs for youths. Maggie loved children, some of whom others might have given up on, and fought hard to give them opportunities. She intuitively understood these youngsters needed to fulfill their potential.
In addition, Maggie became an advocate for Chicago's museums and other cultural institutions. It is said that she pushed her husband to become more supportive in these areas. With her dedication to the arts, she helped transform the city's old central library, an architectural gem, into the Chicago Cultural Center. Her efforts helped in making Chicago into the arts powerhouse it is today. She was also on the auxiliary board of the Art Institute. These are but a few of her contributions.
In 2002 she was diagnosed with breast cancer, which would be known as her "primary" cancer. Daley said, "I was shocked. But you have to pick up and move on... I'm not alone here." In 2009, it was discovered that the "primary" had metastasized to her bones. In 2010, surgeons inserted a titanium rod into her leg bone, which is common practice to prevent fractures. She endured many weeks of radiation to the affected bones, and became wheelchair-bound in the process.
As one who can empathize with what was happening to her, it's always amazing to see how the power of the human spirit surfaces. This was most clearly seen when her daughter's wedding plans had to be rearranged so that Maggie could be in attendance. It had been a most difficult summer, but Maggie knew what she had to do -- be there for her family just one more time. One week later, she died.
Sadly, Maggie Daley did not die alone that year. Approximately 40,000 others lost their battles with breast cancer in 2011. There were no armies that could win these battles. The culprits, our own bodies, were then and still remain the battleground of this enemy.
This disease has changed so many lives for so many decades, it does not discriminate. It takes the young and the old. We constantly shudder when we hear another has fallen. When will this end, we ask? Where is this cure we so desperately seek?
As one of Maggie's mourners said, "You are Chicago, and Chicago isn't the same without you!"
Maggie Daley was buried next to her son, Kevin, who died in 1981 at the age of just 33 months old, from complications with spinal bifida.
Until next time,
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