Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Reflections

Since tomorrow is the anniversary of my mothers passing I figured I would get serious for once. It is so hard to believe that seven years have gone by. I don't think it will matter how much time passes, I still remember it all as if it were yesterday. It is frustrating that those memories will stick with me forever, but that the little memories and happenings of our day to day lives slowly slips away with each passing day. While I still do feel a major connection to my mother I obviously wish she were physically here to participate in life with all of us.

This comes at a good time for me motivationally. I have about a month left of training until my triathlon and am continuing to raise money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. Here are the facts, my mothers cancer was horrible. She was diagnosed way late, and did not really have a fighting chance. When my mother was diagnosed with myeloma she went to an info session and was told that the statitistics were "1-3 years." She left that day and never spoke of it to any of us. Almost 6 months after her diagnosis she went in for a stem cell transplant. That was supposed to "cure her" and I thought that would be it. She was home within a month or so and was even able to return back to work for some part time hours. Shortly after the myeloma was back again. Most people get years after their stem cell transplants before the ugly head rears itself again. My mother had months. After enduring all that went into the transplant she knew she did not have that in her again. In February was the first time that I realized that we would lose her. She ended up in the hospital with pneumonia and was put on a ventilator for the first time. It was frightening. ALthough she may have been ready to go then, we were not quite ready for the harsh reality and she managed to pull herself out of that and come home again. A month later she was at my birthday and that is where our last picture together was taken. Just months after that while my father was building a ramp so that she could easily access the house in the wheelchair, she went back into the hospital and would not make it home.

I will never forget my mothers doctors coming into the waiting area and crying with us saying "I just know that there will come a day when there is a better treatment and we will think of Betty Lou." I just really hope that that is true. That is why I have been pushing my limits for 7 years and begging everyone for money so that someday I can read an article or hear from a researcher that they have the answer. I am not asking for a cure, I am asking for something that makes life a little bit easier for people who have to live everyday with cancer.

There are now many new treatments for myeloma. I often think if she had been able to live 3 years, she would have been able to answer my phone call to hear me say "I got into grad school!" if she had lived a little longer than that "hey I had a crazy blind date with a midget" a little after that "I had another blind date with someone I might marry" If she had been given 5 years to live, she would have seen my brother get married and hold her first grandchild. If she had lived 6 more years she would have been there to meet Brian and I after we got engaged. If she had lived a little more than that she could have been the one holding her fathers hand as he passed away and soon thereafter to be the one to tell her mother that papa was gone. Its probably a good thing she wasn't around to hear "we are getting married in Mexico" and even more so, "we are moving to California" because she probably would have killed me.

While its those big times that make it really difficult to be without her, it is really those little things I miss the most. I still can't smell parmesan cheese and not think of my mothers hands after she had grated the cheese for our pasta dinners. All the times she teased me for having "fried eggs." All the times that she would reprimand me and then I would hear her on the phone with her friends laughing saying "the apple doesn't fall far." The times I would walk into the house after being out with friends and hearing "you smell like a goddamn brewery" (after 21 of course). The smell of her baby powder that she always put on after a shower. The many days we would spend at the beach soaking up the sun. I can't help but laugh when I hear daughters and their mothers bickering and fighting. I want to say so badly "do you have any idea how badly I wish I could have a fight with my mother right now?" There is nothing quite like the bond and relationship between a mother and a daughter. People think it is the big things that shape their lives and mold them into who they are, but really it is all the little things we do. 7 years might not sound like much, but if someone who has just been diagnosed with cancer hears that their prognosis is about 7-10 years, just think about how many of those small moments you can still have, not to mention the big ones.

I truly wish nobody would have to go through what my mother went through, and what my family did as well. But the fact is that this is probably not the hardest thing that I will have to endure in life. I can only hope that my efforts will make a difference to somebody being diagnosed, and a difference to their family. 7 years ago I thought I was going to be feel lost for a long time. I quickly found my way and tuned my situation into one I could deal with. TNT has been such a big part of that. Not only for the comraderie of it all, but for the feeling that I can actually do something so that someday, someone might be able to have a few more holiday parties to throw, a few more fights with their kids about who they are hanging out with, or a few more laughs with their husbands about how much their kids drive them crazy and a few more days to see their kids grow into adults they would be proud of.

Hopefully after 7 more years I will be able to report that nowadays people diagnosed with myeloma can expect a cure. You just never know when that is around the corner.

If you would like to donate to the leukemia and lymphoma society please visit my page:
http://pages.teamintraining.org/sd/VineHIrn09/jmerrill

Thanks for all your love and support the past 7 years, I would not be here without it and will continue to need it with each passing day.

1 comment:

Julie said...

This was very touching for me and I feel for you every day. Thank you for being a part of our lives. You are an inspiration to my mother and is what helps her move on. Thank you is all I can offer for the pain you put your body through for a cure. You are truly a wonderful person who I am blessed to have in my life!

Love,
Jules