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Patients Against Lymphoma


Advocacy > In Memory of Page Irby 

Last update: 12/30/2008

New:  The 2008 Page Irby Patient Navigator Award

Dear friends,

I am deeply saddened today to learn of the passing of Page Irby, a valued friend, colleague, and founding member of Patients Against Lymphoma.  

Page was and will remain an inspiration to me in her approach to life. As you may know, she was committed to helping others to navigate the medical system and was an articulate advocate for becoming an informed and proactive patient. 

Page wrote: 

" When I was a child growing up I knew I wanted to be a nurse, just like my grandmother. Then I grew up and became a nurse – just like my grandmother – almost. In her days of nursing, doctors were thought of as ‘God.’ All of the nurses stood up when a doctor entered the room, and one would never think of questioning a doctor. And her generation of peers still don’t question the doctor – in fact, most Americans don’t – we are a very passive society, relying on our doctor to cure us. 

... Empower yourself. Utilize all resources available to you. I see a circle. I, the victim of NHL am in the center of the circle with my oh-so-important faith. My team members surround me – none more important than the other, but all so integral...I embrace them."

Page served as Director on PAL's board from its inception until the time of her passing. Indeed, I'm not sure if PAL would exist today if not for her steadfast encouragement. She'd say: "There is an urgent need for a group that's focused on patient issues." We could always rely on Page to provide reasoned, patient-centered, guidance and perspectives.

On a personal level I just miss her: her voice, her life - everything about her. 

~ Karl Schwartz
President, Patients Against Lymphoma

Page Bohannon Irby
SANDBRIDGE, Virginia Beach

Page died at the age of  51 on Tuesday, March 11th, 2008 after 14 years of living with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.  Her life on this earth was magical. Her grandparents, her parents, her husband, her children, her brother, her in-laws and her niece and nephews gave her such joy.  She always felt so fortunate for that gift.

Page was preceded in death by her grandparents who were very influential in her life.  Marshall T. and Grace B. Bohannon, Hannah and 'Uncle Stukey' Stewart, and 'Grandma' Maggie Wilkinson all provided many wonderful memories for her.

Page is survived by her husband of almost 27 years, Edward C. Irby Jr., her most adored and beloved children, Maggie Page Irby and Walter Elliott Irby, and their future spouses Jacob M. Freshman and Gretchen E. Hall, her beloved parents, Connie and Toppy Bohannon, her brother and wife, Marshall T. and Elizabeth Bohannon and their three sons - Ryan, Warren and Trevor; her in-laws, Ned and Margaret Irby, Joe and Brenda Irby and their two sons, Marshall and James; Sam and Gay Irby, and their children - Lauren and Sam; her God-daughter Emma Brett, her oldest, best of friends Leighton Clarke Krips and Fran Ruggles Albro, her dearest angels, Jim and Norma Ballheim of Keswick and many, many incredible friends and you know who you are.

It would be remiss not to mention her faithful companions Rosie and Chloe, black labs.

The family would like to express sincere gratitude to Dr. Paul Conkling and his staff for their steadfast care over so many years;.  And to the oncology team and stem cell clinic and unit staff of the University of Virginia Hospital - we are so grateful for the high level of skill and professional care, love and warmth you have extended to Page and her family, again over so many years.

Page was blessed in her life.  Her nursing career meant much to her.  She attended Randolph Macon College in Ashland, VA after graduating from Norview High School in 1974.  She made lifelong friends while at Randolph Macon.  She transferred to St. Luke's Hospital School of Nursing and graduated, proud to be one of only 9 graduates, in 1979.  She worked at Sentara Leigh Hospital in Norfolk on 1B to start her career.  Then she worked at Mt.Vernon Hospital when she and her family lived in Alexandria, VA 1984-1986;  they came back to Norfolk in 1986 and she again worked at Sentara Leigh Hospital in the flexipool for 8 years.  That work enabled her to be home when her children were home.  She left the hospital and went into home care nursing which she loved.  She worked for Olsten Kimberly Home Care and then helped start-up Staff Builders Home Care where she worked in management.  She retired from nursing after 20 years when it became clear that the one she needed to take care of was herself.

Page was a patient advocate and worked with the Lymphoma Research foundation in lobbying for NIH funding for lymphoma research and she worked on fundraising by hosting a gala in 1999 and an oyster roast in 2003.  She sat on the board of "Patients Against Lymphoma" (lymphomation.org).  She participated in clinical trials knowing that a cure will not be found for lymphoma without the FDA approving hopeful treatment options.

She also sat on the Local Human Rights Committee at Southeastern Virginia Training Facility for many years.

Clearly, the most important and the job that she felt most proud of was that of mother to Maggie and Walt and wife to Ed. No greater love has been known.

God blessed Page with a creative spirit and she shared that spirit with so many.  Known for hand-painting her gifts, decorating her home with her hand-painted tiles and handicrafts, she also hosted 'Creative Workshops' in her home at Sandbridge.  She loved to entertain and a legacy to special friends and family was her Valentine's Sweetheart Dinners.

Page was most proud that both of her children found their creative spirits.  It is that spirit that helped balance Page's roller-coaster life with lymphoma. 

Page had lymphoma - it did not have her.

A big thank you is extended to the many neighbors at Sandbridge who came to Page's aid in helping her over and over with meals, transportation and 'checking in.'

A Memorial Service will be held at Nimmo United Methodist Church, 2200 Princess Anne Road, Virginia Beach, VA 23455 on Saturday, March 15th, 2008 at 2:00 pm.  The family will receive visitors at the church following the ceremony.

Donations may be made to Patients Against Lymphoma (lymphomation.org). 3774 Buckwampum Road  Riegelsville, PA 18077

Cox Funeral Home 631 Westover Avenue, Norfolk, VA 23507 -- (757) 622-4791.  Any flower donations, please send to the home at 361 Whiting Lane Virginia Beach, VA 23456.

Thank You.

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professional medical advice or to replace your relationship with a physician.
For all medical concerns,  you should always consult your doctor. 
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