I sat quietly sipping a cup of tea and looking out the window at the soft white snow gently falling to the earth. A light blanket of snow was forming across the grass and everything was silent and peaceful for that moment. It was absolutely beautiful and calming. As I watched the snow fall, a tear trickled down my cheek and without warning, a burst of tears soon flowed.
My dear friend, Kim Newlen, died on Saturday, February 8th after a courageous and inspiring battle against metastatic, metaplastic breast cancer. Kim had one of the rarest forms of breast cancer with no known cure. She was laid to rest and a Celebration of her Life was held on February 11th. I knew the day was coming, but it took my breath away when I heard the news. Weeks of intense caregiving alongside other caring women had not prepared me for the flood of emotions that ran through my mind and body.
The days of caring for Kim had come to an end, and the finality of it all was overwhelming. And now, watching the snow fall to the ground gave me time to pause and remember Kim’s life.
A one-time breast cancer survivor, Kim learned that her cancer had returned with a vengeance on July 11, 2013. The news was startling but it did not shake her faith or her hope. She continued to do all of the things she loved in life – writing, teaching, praying, working, helping others, being a mom and a wife, taking care of other women, and even dancing in the rain. Aggressive cancer treatments through clinical trials at MD Anderson in Texas couldn’t even dampen her spirits. She smiled and spoke with every person she met at MD Anderson whether they were in the waiting room, in the lab, on the elevator, or even in the bathroom. Her smile and laughter were contagious and her zest for life was inspiring to other patients who found hope in her words.
Kim underwent rigorous medical testing, chemo, and radiation for weeks at a time – only to once return to Richmond and attend a book signing two days later to promote her book, “The One Year Sweet & Simple Moments with God Devotional”. Her book was released the day she learned her cancer had returned.
She enthusiastically attended a book signing at Barnes & Noble in Houston, TX while in the process of getting extremely difficult chemo treatments – thanks to help and support from the Salvation Army and incredible volunteers who made it all possible. She held a holiday book signing at Lifeway Christian Bookstore in Richmond in December. She enjoyed a festive time of signing books and socializing with women at Brighton Collectibles in Stony Point. She visited with Shelly Perkins and Bill Bevins on the Lite98 Wake-up Show and she interviewed live with national radio personality Chris Fabry to discuss her new book. Kim relished the time she spent with wonderful women at Pink & Pearls where her books were sold as a fundraiser, among many other events she attended all while battling her cancer.
Kim was a warrior and she was brave. But as I think of Kim, I also think of what a soft, caring, loving, and fun mother she was to her daughter. She was a devoted mom who also loved all children and who spent many years as a third grade teacher where she referred to her students as “third greaters”. She often hosted tea parties for little girls to celebrate birthdays or special occasions and would let them blow out real candles lighted and perched on top of her birthday hat! Kim never met a person without offering him or her one of her sweet “smiley faith” butter mints and one of her incredible smiles. She took every opportunity to tell people about her faith and what God had done in her life – and what He would do in their lives as well.
Kim always wore pink since it was her favorite color – and she had pink purses, and pink hats, and pink watches to match for every occasion. She organized and held the World’s Largest Tea Party at the University of Richmond and broke the Guinness Book of World Records. She was the founder of Sweet Monday which now has groups meeting around the world. Kim spoke to women’s groups around the country, inspiring and encouraging women to live a “sweet, simple, and salty” life by taking time to enjoy every second of every day. She created and marketed a special garment for women undergoing breast cancer treatment to help them “look better than they feel”. Her vivacious personality and love of life was fueled by her love for God and His Word – and also by the hundreds of women who loved her and called her ‘friend’.
We said good-by for now to a beautiful friend on February 11th and our hearts are broken that we will not see her again on this earth. But through our sorrow and our tears, we know that Sweet Kim Newlen is exactly where she wants to be right now. She has left her pain and suffering behind for a new life beyond our world. A place where there is no cancer and no pain, but lots of pink parties and joy!
And she has left a legacy of love, hope, and caring that will live on.
To learn more about Kim, click here.
Sweet note from Kali:
My mom had the biggest heart. She taught us to celebrate everything, to live without regrets, to forgive quickly and to love deeply. Our lives are sweeter because of how she’s inspired us, encouraged us and brought us closer to our Savior. With her sweet Southern charm, her radiant smile and joyful spirit, she perfectly embodies the characteristics of a Proverbs 31 Woman. Not only is she a Richmond “Hometown Hero,” but she’s our hero and always will be. As my mom would say, BSSYP – “Be Sweet and Say Your Prayers.”