COVID-19, a new strain of the coronavirus, has swept across the world in the last few months, infecting about 270,000 people to date and killing well over 10,000 of them. For the most part, these deaths have been elderly people who have lived long full lives, but occasionally, the virus takes the life of someone younger, particularly those who have underlying health conditions, which can cause complications.
Sadly, 42-year-old Sundee Rutter, from Snohomish County, Washington, was one of those cases. The single mother of six lost her husband several years ago, and as if that weren’t enough to go through in one lifetime, she also developed stage IV metastatic breast cancer and survived it.
But when Sundee came down with COVID-19, she didn’t have the same luck she’d had with cancer, despite being a fighter by nature. She was always careful about germs because of her compromised immunity from breast cancer treatment, but she was determined to continue working to support her family, even after the virus showed up in the area.
When Sundee initially began feeling ill, she went to the hospital but was sent back home. She was not admitted to Providence Medical Center in Everett until a few days later, when she began to have trouble breathing and her son brought her back to the hospital. And by then it was too late.
About two weeks after Sundee contracted the virus, it took her life.
Sundee’s children range from middle school to college ages, and now they’ve been left orphaned and vulnerable. Luckily, however, their community has come together to rally around them during this difficult time.
“She was a wonderful person, and there’s not many like her out there anymore. Great friend, great mother, great wife, she was a wonderful person,” says Jessica Harris, Sundee’s best friend. “We’re pretty devastated; she beat cancer and lost the battle to coronavirus? It’s just crazy.”
Jessica says that until her friend’s situation became serious, she and most of the people around her treated COVID-19 as if it were nothing to worry about and would blow over soon. “And then when I got the news of her, I was like ‘Oh my God, this is not something to play with, this is serious’ and now my outlook is different,” she recalls.
Now Jessica is working on helping the children get their lives back together. “Her children need somebody to help them, because the oldest is going to be leaving college and trying to find housing so he can take care of his siblings,” she says. “And that’s really tough.”
A GoFundMe Page has been set up in the Ross-Rutter family’s name to help the kids get through this rough time, just as Sundee was dedicated to helping people during her life.
“She was the kindest person you would ever meet,” Jessica said. “She was always there for everyone. And I will miss her.”
Elizabeth Nelson is a wordsmith, an alumna of Aquinas College in Grand Rapids, a four-leaf-clover finder, and a grammar connoisseur. She has lived in west Michigan since age four but loves to travel to new (and old) places. In her free time, she. . . wait, what’s free time?