Courtney Clifford (1982 – 2011)

February 10th, 2011 · 17 Comments

One of my favorite friends in the whole wide world passed away this evening. Those of you who have been reading this blog over the past few months know that my friend Courtney had been battling metastatic ovarian cancer.

I’ve been trying to write this blog entry for the last half-hour, but I keep writing things and erasing them. At first, I detailed the history of Courtney’s battle with cancer, but since she is no longer suffering in its grasp, that all seems pointless now. Instead, I’d like to share with you about five years I never want to forget.

I first met Courtney in Austin at the inaugural LIVESTRONG Summit in 2006. I had gone to Austin knowing absolutely no one, but I came away from Texas with lifelong friends. On the last day of the Summit, a few of us hit up one of Lance’s favorite digs on Barton Springs Road for dinner and drinks.

Us @ Chuy's

We henceforth became The Chuy’s Gang. Sure, other people had been to Chuy’s during that trip and on many other occasions, but let’s face it: We ruled the place. Have you ever seen such a good-looking group of people?

The following year, Vicky, Nikki and I met up in Portland (Tigard, Beaverton, whatever), OR, for the LIVESTRONG Challenge. Of course we would have loved for Court to be there, but she wasn’t well at the time, so we “raced” (inasmuch as I ever race) in her honor.

With Chris Carmichael

(We got all wet that day, can you tell? Thank you, Pacific Northwest.)

We were super thrilled the following year when the people at the Lance Armstrong Foundation announced the second LIVESTRONG Summit, this time in Courtney’s home state of Ohio. The Chuy’s gang was back together again, despite wicked delays out of O’Hare, minus a couple and plus a few stragglers (ha, Marcia, how did you not make it to Chuy’s, anyway?!), at Eddie George’s in Columbus.

The Original Chuy's Bunch, Minus Some, Plus Some

I realize that I’m making it sound like all food and beverages here, but what else is new?

Of course, it being that this was Court’s home, she showed us a good time. I even got to stay at a hotel for free because Court had received housing as part of a scholarship to the Summit, but she gave it up so I could stay there while she stayed with family nearby. How did we repay Courtney for her kindness? Well, let’s just say we found some glass markers in the back of her van . . .

Introduce Yourself

Watch Out for Kate!

Courtrney Reacts

She Liked This One

Hey, I only found the markers. Notice the handy work is not in my handwriting.

Of course you realize, the van looked like this the Entire. Rest. Of. The. Summit. Including a couple days later, when Court ran into a certain someone at Starbucks.


Does the man really need an introduction? Photo courtesy Courtney Clifford.

Dude didn’t say anything about the van, but maybe he just didn’t realize it was hers. Maybe the “HI I’M COURTNEY” and “I LOVE LANCE” weren’t too obvious. ;o)

Fortunately for us, Court was too stoked about meeting her “husband” to be mad. Did I say husband? Oh, yeah, but Lance wasn’t the only one, by the way. In August 2009, Courtney sent us all an e-mail, inviting us to her upcoming nuptials, “since Lance kind of moved on and out of our relationship and went ahead and had a kid BEHIND MY BACK”:


Court and Nick Lachey. Photo courtesy Courtney Clifford.

:o)

Unfortunately, not long after this picture was taken, the cancer started taking Court on the increasingly painful journey that finally ended this evening. She endured exhausting chemotherapy sessions, multiple surgeries, megadoses of antibiotics and terrible exhaustion that left her too weak to hold a phone to her ear. But she still fought cancer as an activist every way she could, including throwing out the first pitch at a Minor League Baseball game to raise awareness about ovarian cancer. I wish I could say things had gone differently, but every time Court slapped cancer in the face, it hit back harder. The minor league game became Court’s last really big event. Over the past half-year or so, I ended up mostly communicating about her with her mom. I was so lucky to be able to chat with my friend a few times, when she felt up to it. Once, when she was on the way home from one of her Cincy hospital stays, she sent me an MMS with some attitude:


Photo courtesy Courtney Clifford.

That was our Court. :o)

Of course, over the past few months, she didn’t feel like this too much of the time. But no matter what, she didn’t give up. Court wasn’t going to go until she was good and ready. Some time in the past couple of weeks, Court worked with the hospice staff to make videos of herself for her family. She had done some research and learned that surviving family members often missed a deceased person’s voice the most. Court knew her time was approaching – she could feel that something was finally really, really different – and she didn’t want her family to forget her.

Oh, Courtney. You should’ve known better than that: We could never forget you. Your amazing spirit lives on in everyone whose lives you touched, and we will continue to take up the fight against cancer in your memory and your honor. And we will miss you so, so much.

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17 responses so far ↓

  • 1 admin // Feb 10, 2011 at 10:43 pm

    Isn’t it ironic that you passed away on a Thursday night? I hope you were caught up on your “Grey’s Anatomy,” young lady. Especially since you got me hooked on the dang thing.

  • 2 Keao // Feb 10, 2011 at 10:48 pm

    Oh, Crissy, you made me cry reading this. I can’t believe I never met Courtney but your blog has extended her circle of friends to include Scott and myself. I’ve followed along and indeed, kind of been jealous that I could only be blessed by pictures and not by being in her actual presence. Her energy and joy just emanated from those pictures and it draws you to her.

    I’m so sorry, crissy. I understand why you have devoted your life to fighting such a sickening disease that robs us of so many loved ones.

  • 3 Marcia // Feb 11, 2011 at 6:52 am

    Thank you Crissy…through the tears.

  • 4 John Stegeman // Feb 11, 2011 at 7:56 am

    That was a moving tribute. I found this blog by googling Courtney’s name.

    I interviewed her and met her a few times while I worked for the Portsmouth Daily Times. She was an impressive person and made an impact on me even though I barely knew her.

  • 5 Karen Donaldson Kuzmack // Feb 11, 2011 at 8:05 am

    Crissy, what a beautiful posting with some wonderful pictures of Courtney. I had the privilege of meeting Courtney at the 2008 LIVESTRONG Cancer Summit in Ohio. We both shared the battle with Ovarian Cancer and a HUGE love of Jimmy Buffett. Dee Sparacio another Ovarian Cancer survivor introduced me to Courtney and immediately her amazing spirit and enthusiasm for life was apparent. We’d check in on each other with periodic Facebook updates commenting on different adventures and activities.

    She was one of those beautiful people on the both the inside and outside. She’ll be very missed by all those that knew and loved her. She truly was a great example of Livingstrong. Gone, but never forgotten!

    Thanks again for sharing Courtney’s story!

    Karen Donaldson Kuzmack

    p.s. I live in Portland, Oregon so if you’re ever in the area, I’ll take you out for lunch!

  • 6 Tom July // Feb 11, 2011 at 8:17 am

    I’ve known Courtney all her life. It was wonderful of you to post this in her honor. I’ve never met anyone stronger then Courtney and probably never will.

  • 7 Vicky // Feb 11, 2011 at 8:28 am

    A wonderful blog Crissy… She was such a force of life. We will never forget our sweet friend. The photos are great and brought lots of tear, but they were not just sad tears… there are happy tears for fun happy times spent with amazing friends. Love you. Hug.

  • 8 Jenn Porzio // Feb 11, 2011 at 10:46 am

    Crissy, what a great story. So very well written. Thoughts and prayers are with her family.

  • 9 Scott // Feb 11, 2011 at 3:37 pm

    I’m so sorry Crissy. Cancer sucks, having robbed Casey of a grandfather. I’m so glad you have such great memories of your friend. It’s too bad I didn’t have a chance to meet her.

  • 10 Paula // Feb 12, 2011 at 5:32 pm

    Crissy,
    I’m so glad you and Courtney became friends. Livestrong lives on. I am so moved by this. Mahalo.

  • 11 Hagen // Feb 13, 2011 at 4:04 am

    Crissy,

    Courtney’s parents are my parents neighbors and Courtney was my brother’s best friend. I can’t believe we are headed to Portsmouth shortly for the visitation & funeral. She had such an amazing spirit. Your blog is great and we are all so lucky to have known her.

  • 12 Nicole // Feb 14, 2011 at 2:52 pm

    Hello, I’m a high school friend of Courtney’s. What a great blog, thank you so much for sharing, Crissy. Courtney was truly an amazing woman and has touched so many of us.

  • 13 Angie B. // Feb 15, 2011 at 6:17 am

    This was a very great post and brought tears to my eyes. I was lucky enough to have known Courtney and had the opportunity to play softball with her as a teenager and go to the same high school. Although I didn’t know her real well, I knew she was a great athlete and a great person. I’m glad she’s no longer in pain and the suffering is finally over. She will be missed by many!

  • 14 Kevin // Feb 16, 2011 at 9:17 am

    Thank you so much for this touching tribute Crissy. There were a number of Courtney’s extended family that could not attend the funeral (my mother – Courtney’s great aunt for one).

  • 15 Gina // Apr 17, 2011 at 5:19 am

    Out of the blue I googled Courtney’s name today and your site popped up. I also met Courtney at the first Livestrong Summit in Austin—she was the first person I met there; in fact, we met on the bus from the airport to the hotel. She was so physically beautiful and young. I probably had 20 years on her, but when I asked her if she wanted to eat lunch—she did not hesitate. We ate Mexican Food and I immediately knew she was special. Special enough that I would remember her after all this time. Even with all her serious health problems—I will remember her smile and big heart. She informed me that Chuy’s was Lance’s favorite Mexican food restaurant and that she was going! And it appears she went and made wonderful memories.

  • 16 admin // Apr 19, 2011 at 8:03 pm

    Thanks, Gina. She truly was a special person, and we will make sure everybody knows it! =)

  • 17 Sandi McKendree // Aug 19, 2011 at 6:35 am

    I worked with Courtney at the ATP and loved her to death. I was so sad to hear that she is with her father and Lord. She is no longer is pain and can smile upon all of you and be so proud that you were her family.

    I have lost loved ones to Cancer of every type, and had to fight breast cancer. I know what you have felt and been through so believe me when I say “I’m sorry that you can’t hold her but thrilled she is with God.”

    Love to you all!

    Sandi

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