“God is the creator of life and He will decide when it is time to go home.
Never lose HOPE.”
These are the words written by our beloved Becky M. Olson in her book, “The Hat That Saved My Life,” published in 2004 following her second breast cancer diagnosis. Surrounded by family, and in the comfort of her home in Florence, Oregon, God greeted her shortly after 2am on April 24th, 2021, at the age of 68. Becky was a 5-time breast cancer survivor who never lost hope and fought her cancer battle with an awe-inspiring balance of grace and ferocity.
“Looking back on my life, there is one word that describes me best, Fighter!” Becky wrote. And fight she did, for 25 years to the day of her initial cancer diagnosis.
A devoted wife, mother of five children, daughter, sister, friend, mentor, motivational speaker, author, radio show host, and co-founder of Breast Friends, Becky has been a pillar in her family and community and has left a legacy that includes inspiring thousands of others around the world to Stay in the Light and never lose sight of HOPE.
Becky was born in Fairbanks, Alaska on December 3, 1952, to her parents Mary (Soldano) Lawler and James Phillips. She grew up in Seattle, Washington where she eventually started a career in the film industry and had two young children, Tanya & Joshua, from her first marriage. At 27 years old, she then met her husband Bill. They started their life together in Oregon and had Elizabeth, Elijah, and Micah. Bill and Becky would be celebrating their 41st wedding anniversary on May 17th, 2021. Becky was preceded in death by her father, mother, and step-father Adrian Lawler. She was a sister to Debbie, Jimmy, Jess and Shani, step-sister to Kevin and Kelly, sister-in-law to Don, Nancy, and Greg, and step-daughter to Ann Phillips of Tigard, OR.
Her warmth, charm, and natural ability to connect with people made her a superstar sales rep; moving her way up the ranks selling Tupperware in Medford, to a top advertising sales manager at Dex in Portland. She had once said that each bout of cancer offered her a lesson and an opportunity to pivot in her life. Each battle led to a positive change. After her first diagnosis she finished her degree at Marylhurst University and co-founded a non-profit organization called Breast Friends. After the second diagnosis in 2004, she quit her sales job to focus full-time on the non-profit and her career as a motivational speaker.
Becky loved to travel, and over the years she visited Italy, Spain, France, Greece, Iceland, and Israel, to name just a few. She road-tripped cross-country TWICE within the past few years with her husband. She loved spending time with her five grandchildren, Jenna, Mikael, Joanie, Kieren, and Shawn, up and down the east coast.
If you have made it this far into this humble attempt at honoring Becky’s life, then you ought to also know that she was an amazing dancer and singer. She loved to sing, and was often invited to perform at special events or friends’ weddings. The last song Becky sang was on Wednesday, April 21st.
Knowing that this song was in her heart, just before her life in this body was to end, tells us something remarkable about Becky. Despite her battle-scarred body, despite the cancer in her brain slowly taking hold, she felt whole. She knew she was loved. As for her family and friends who grieve her, we were reminded by Chaplin Dow of Peace Health Hospice - the antidote to grief is gratitude. Becky’s family has been overwhelmed with gratitude by the outpouring of support by the Florence community throughout this challenging time.
We encourage you to take a few moments to go listen to this song: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=efIAM5dzuDs
(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman
Written by Carol King as Performed by Aretha Franklin
A Celebration of Life for Becky is being planned for Saturday July 17th, 2021 in Florence, Oregon. In honor of Becky and her dedication to provide hope to cancer survivors and their families, we encourage people to volunteer their time or make a donation in her name to Breast Friends: https://breastfriends.org/get-involved/