Remembering Diane Fajen

We're so sorry about the passing of Diane Fajen on January 11, 2015. She was a conscientious volunteer on SHARE's Ovarian Cancer Helpline, as well as a participant in OCNA's Survivors Teaching Students. Diane's daughter Kim penned a beautiful remembrance of her, which we're sharing below.

Diane Fajen, 1944-2015

Diane FajenThis afternoon at 1:30P Diane Fajen, clipper and distributor of New York Times articles, advocate of hand-written thank you notes, planner of parties for any reasonably acceptable occasion and ardent believer that no woman in her right mind should leave the house without applying lipstick, passed away peacefully in her home after a protracted and courageous battle with ovarian cancer. She was 70 years old.

Born in 1944, Diane had a wonderful childhood, which she largely attributed to the fact that she was the first born of eleven in her generation and was generally spoiled rotten by her aunts, uncles and grandparents. Her summers were spent roaming the beaches of Rockaway, a childhood she extolled throughout her life and categorically denied her own children due to the undeniable risk that such unsupervised freedom afforded.

Upon learning in her senior year of high school that no funds had been set aside for the female children in her household to pursue higher education, she went about securing a scholarship and graduated four years later from Tufts University /Boston-Bouve College with a degree in Physical Therapy, a vocation she practiced with passion and joy (except for the paperwork) for nearly five decades and up until 3 weeks before her death. Her patients were a particular source of gratification in her life, especially the older ones, and she often got involved on a more personal level, taking them out on their birthday or stopping by for a quick hello.

In 1967 she met and married Stephen Fajen at the age of 23. They had two children, Kim and Brett and settled in Larchmont, NY, where Diane practiced physical therapy, organized and hosted block parties, gourmet food and movie clubs, coached junior soccer league teams and became a card-carrying member of Manor Beach. She never missed a play, a soccer game, a back-to-school night, a concert or a family dinner and for that she taught her children there are some things in life you can always ALWAYS count on.

After her divorce in 1998 she embarked on a new chapter in her life. She took up ballroom dancing and sailing, joining the club Singles Under Sail, where she met Bob Griffin, who has been her partner for the past 15 years.

Throughout her life, she was a dedicated, supportive and loving mother, grandmother and friend. She not only enjoyed taking her family on yearly vacations to Nantucket, she insisted on it, often planning the next year's vacation before the current one had ended. She loved the theatre, gardening, cooking, traveling, 1950's music, picnics, museums, ice cream and match-making. She would do anything for the family and friends in her life…except answer the phone Monday through Friday from 7:00P – 7:30P because "Jeopardy is on right now, why are you calling me?"

In 2009, Diane was diagnosed with stage 3 Ovarian Cancer. Upon learning of her diagnosis, she admonished her oncologist that he'd better figure something out because she wasn't done helping the people who needed her. She faced her illness as she had all the obstacles in her life -- with unshakable determination. She was not only an overly informed, vocal and tireless advocate on her own behalf, but she participated in fundraising events and conferences for cancer research, volunteered with Survivors Teaching Students and worked for the Ovarian Cancer National Alliance Share hot line, offering support and guidance to newly diagnosed patients. She sailed across the Atlantic Ocean, traveled to the Galapagos Islands, hosted Neil Diamond in her apartment for Passover (the pinnacle of achievement for any seasoned hostess) and spent a great deal of time cleaning out and organizing her storage unit so as to spare her children the task.

In her final days, surrounded by her family and in her own home, she took the opportunity to advise Bob to finish the renovations on his bathroom and remind her children that tickets for the Nantucket car ferry go on sale in mid-January.

She is survived by her two children, four grandchildren, her boyfriend, daughter and son-in-law, her ex-husband and a boatload of friends and relatives who all loved her, supported her and filled her life with laughter, light and joy.

Godspeed Diane/Mom/G-Di. Wherever you are headed we hope there is a beach chair, a New York Times and a cone of Crantucket ice cream waiting for you.

If not, we have the utmost confidence that you'll sort it out.