It's impossible to choose one thing about the unsolved murder case of JonBenét Ramsey that's more tragic than any other, but one thing that does weigh on my heart quite a bit is the way JonBenét's mother Patsy Ramsey died: She survived her daughter by almost a decade, dying on June 24, 2006 after succumbing to a battle with ovarian cancer. Ramsey had battled the disease since 1993, when she was first diagnosed with stage 4 ovarian cancer at just 37 years old. She had been in remission for nine years until it recurred in 2002.
Stage 4 is the most advanced stage, and means that the cancer cells have spread to other organs outside the peritoneal cavity, which contains the inner abdomen and some of the pelvis and pelvic organs. Depending on what form of ovarian cancer she had, it carries a five-year survival rate of 17 percent on the low end, and 69 percent on the high end. Essentially, the fact that Ramsey's cancer was in complete remission for nine years is a gift in itself. However, when the cancer returned in 2002, it had spread to the liver. Although Ramsey fought fiercely, it claimed her life just four years later, at age 49.
Tragically, even Patsy Ramsey's obituary was full of speculation as to her alleged involvement in the crime that killed her 6-year-old daughter. It wouldn't be until two years after Ramsey's death that she and her husband, John, and son, Burke, would be cleared of all suspicion by a 2008 DNA test. That test proved that whoever committed the crime was not a family member, but Patsy didn't live long enough to see herself exonerated. At the time, Boulder County District Attorney Mary Lacy wrote in a 2008 letter to John, "To the extent that we may have contributed in any way to the public perception that you might have been involved in this crime, I am deeply sorry."
It's heartbreaking that that process had to take as long as it did; if it had only come two years earlier, Patsy could have at least had some measure of closure.