The picture above is from my mom’s funeral program. The sentiment, “There are no other mommys like you.”, scrawled on the back of scrap paper and presented, no-doubt proudly, by a preschooler 35 years ago to her mom, is mine, but it is a sentiment felt by kids young and old about their own moms.
Neither I, when I wrote it, nor my mom when she stashed it away to pull out and look back on years later, thought it would make its next appearance as a final tribute on her funeral program at age 59. Or that I, her 36 year-old-daughter who had written that note on the back of a drawing some thirty years before, would such a relatively short time later, be making the decision to have it buried with her.
It doesn’t matter what age you are or what age they are, losing a loved one is devastating. Losing them to cancer needs to stop. And some day I know it will. My hope is that day will come sooner than later.
I’m not going to give you a lot of facts and statistics. There are plenty of places that can do that better than me.
I am just going to give you my personal story.
Cancer has touched other members of my family and friends, but never like it did when it hit my own mom two years ago. She had been extra tired, exhausted actually. The summer before, she had an unexplained cough that took months to go away. But, life carried on as normal.
Until she woke up August 14, 2012 with a completely limp left arm. She couldn’t move her arm at all, it simply hung at her side. A few days later the weakness spread to her left leg. Then came the diagnosis.
She had seven tumors in her brain.
December 18, 2012 at 4:30pm, 127 days after her first symptom, my mom passed away.
I am going to be honest. I try not to think about cancer every day. I actually don’t even keep too many reminders of my mom around the house. I have a small set of four pictures propped up on the vanity table where I do my makeup every morning, but other than that, I don’t keep a lot of physical reminders around. The emotional reminders are ever-present on a daily basis. Still. Nearly two years after she passed away.
The memories, the happy, the sad, they all mingle together in my head. The shock and confusion of her cancer diagnosis, the physical and emotional struggle of her illness, and the heartbreak of her death, all those memories are hard to handle. Even the happy memories of the past often remind me there are no more happy memories to be made with my mom. So, most times I find myself shying away from mentions of cancer, for my own self-preservation.
But, this year, when I saw the commercial for the Stand Up 2 Cancer event that will be airing on all major television networks tonight, Friday September 5, I decided I wanted to participate. And I wanted to spread the word a bit.
I went to the standup2cancer.org website and bought a t-shirt that I wore to work today. I will tune in to the televised event tonight at 8/7c. I will make a donation. I will remember my mom and other family and friends I have lost to cancer.
There are millions of women, men, boys, girls, toddlers, and babies fighting cancer.
Some will survive, some will not.
Babies who haven’t had a chance to crawl. Boys who have never ridden a bike without training wheels. Girls who have yet to hit their first home run. Teenagers who are just finding their own voice. Young men and women who just want a chance to make their mark on the world. Young brides and husbands just starting their lives together. Moms and dads with young children. Moms and dads with grown children who still see their babies when they look in their kid’s eyes. Grandparents who have lived a long and storied life, and are prepared to go, but should be able to leave this world not in pain.
Moms. Dads. Daughters. Sons. Sisters. Brothers. Grandpas. Grandmas. Aunts. Uncles. Nieces. Nephews. Cousins. Mentors. Friends.
All over the world, every day, people are fighting, living with, and dying from cancer.
I want to keep other families from going through what I’ve been through, and what millions of other families around the world have been through, and are going through every day.
If you have the means, I urge you to make a donation to support cancer research. If you don’t have the means to donate, simply spread the word and remember your own loved ones tonight.
As they say on the website, “When we all come together, cancer doesn’t stand a chance. This is where the end of cancer begins.”
I’m standing up for my mom, Melinda, who was my best friend, my biggest supporter, and my favorite person to laugh with for 36 years.
Who will you Stand Up For?