In September of 2020, doctors discovered a glioblastoma in my mother. My siblings forced her to go to the ER as she had been acting strange in the days leading up. She became physically unbalanced and partially paralyzed on one side of her body. We all thought she had a stroke until the doctors ran some tests and discovered the tumor in her brain.
This was devastating news for our family. My mom was 65 years old and the doctors informed us it was an aggressive tumor meaning she had 14 months to live at best. After a biopsy, she was transferred to a surgery rehabilitation center. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, my mother was only allowed one visitor per day. I am one of four siblings. So we created a schedule that allowed each of us a turn at visiting her.
From the time my mother was first admitted to the ER, the tumor that sat in her cerebrum was already affecting her speech. Her communication continued to drastically decline from jumbling up some words to only speaking a few words at a time to one-word responses. The progression continued even more limiting her to only nod or shake her head, respond by squeezing our hands and finally no mobility at all. This digression occurred over the course of five weeks – 37 days to be exact. It moved so quickly that we could never quite grasp the state my mom was in as it changed drastically from week to week. I will never forget visiting my mom right after the biopsy. I walked into her recovery room and she looked up at me as I came through the doorway. It took all her energy to muster up the words “you’re beautiful.” This was the last full sentence I would ever hear from my mom. And it is a moment that will never leave me.
Now that you’ve heard the cancer side of the story, I would like to paint a picture of the kind of woman my mother was. She was the oldest of six, and an Air Force brat. She grew up traveling the world with her family. Of course this lead her to value her clan above all else. As I said, I am one of four children. One of four that she raised while working full time to provide for our family after my dad broke his back and was placed on permanent disability. Fast forward to the time my mother was diagnosed with cancer, she was the legal guardian to my three nieces and nephew. She spent all her time and resources to fight to raise them so she could provide a better life for them. They all loved her dearly.
(I am happy to report that the younger three went to a wonderful foster family which is in the process of adopting all three of them. That family has become a huge part of our family and we see each other regularly. The oldest lives with her father not too far from them).
I share this to illustrate what a genuinely good-hearted person my mother was. She loved children and family. In fact, her life’s work was connecting the genealogy for our family as well as organizing family reunions, family recipe books, trusts or anything that linked us all. I probably know more of my second and third cousins than most people do because they all knew my mom. She had an incredible ability to make everyone in her life feel seen, known and like you were the only person in the room. I feel truly blessed being her daughter as she extended that ability to love others and to love deeply.
Those who knew my mom also knew she read books. She always had a book in hand or in her purse. She lived in her stories. Sometimes she was in the middle of three novels at one time. She also loved to travel and could never get rid of the travel bug from her childhood. As sweet as my mom was, my family and I got a kick out of her as a driver. Even though she had love and patience for those around her, you wouldn’t dare cross her while driving. If you cut her off, she wouldn’t let you forget it. Ha ha. She was a very organized, put-together lady, but for those of closest to her, we remember little moments when she would show her silly side. These moments were rarely seen and unexpected which made them highly valued.
Now that you have come to know a little bit more about my mother, I am asking for donations to the Cancer Foundation in her memory. I know if she had the opportunity, she would want to help others suffering to the best of her ability. We found her planner after she passed and found that in the 1-2 months leading up to her hospitalization, my mom had been tracking headaches, but never told anyone. It seemed that over the course of those weeks, they were occurring closer and closer together. My mom was a highly intuitive person, but as we all know there was a lot going on in the year 2020. The hope I have from raising funds is that more research can help people like my mom identify clues of this nature sooner and have more time with those that they love.
I have set a goal of $2000 which is more than the required goal for this fundraiser. If I reach even half of this goal, I will repel down the side of McGregor’s Square in honor of my mom. Thank you for your donation.