Former JU student Margaret “June” Applen, who met her college sweetheart at the University in the 1950s, is the subject of a heart-warming, uplifting Mark Woods column in The Florida Times-Union as she bravely battles ovarian cancer and crosses off items on her “bucket list” of life.
Applen met Alfred Geiger at JU but then lost touch with him for about four decades. The two reunited and became a couple again after Geiger’s wife died in 2003.
Applen, who turns 80 on Tuesday, June 11, has decided to enter hospice care over another round of chemotherapy, opting for boosting the quality of her life over the quantity.
“I don’t think dying is the end of my experience,” she told Woods. “It’s the end of my life as June Applen. She’ll die, but the essence of me may go on somewhere. … And I’m content not knowing the details.”
Here are some excerpts from the article:
Instead of spending her life in waiting rooms and offices, getting her body pumped full of toxins, she has done things like swim with manatees in Crystal River and walk in the Blue Ridge Mountains.
A glass picture of two manatees sits on the windowsill next to her chair.
“These are my friends,” she said with a smile.
Campbell quipped that she’d like to get Applen on a zipline. But when asked what she’d like to do, Applen said she doesn’t have any grand things she feels like she hasn’t accomplished.
She’d just like to enjoy whatever time she has, as best she can. She described going for a “nice drive” recently with Geiger, discovering a new restaurant and finding some of his old swimming holes. She talked about having lunch with friends and savoring everyday things. Like being in an old house, with the rain coming down and the breeze blowing through the open windows.
“I get a few months of normal life before I have to face the worst,” she said. “And for that, I’m very grateful.”
To read the entire article, click here.