Relay for Life is a once a year event from the American Cancer Society that I have been participating in for the past 7 years. It is a touching event that honors, remembers, and fights back in communities across the country. Anyone can be a part of it, whether you have been affected by cancer or not. I have personally been affected by cancer many times in my life. In the past 7 years, I have lost my mom to ovarian cancer and my father in law to liver cancer.

I don’t think I heard the word cancer until I was 9 or 10 years old and my grandfather was diagnosed with brain cancer. A short time after he passed away, my grandmother passed away from lung cancer. I didn’t really understand the disease at that point.

8 years ago this August, 2017, cancer struck closer to home, when my mom heard the news, “you have cancer.” Her husband delivered the news to me, I only remember the news in bits and pieces, as I wasn’t expecting to hear this diagnosis, no one ever is. My mom had gone in for a hysterectomy and what they found was widespread ovarian cancer.

When I went to visit my mom at the hospital the next day, she looked at me and said, “It’s cancer.” I looked at her and said, “I know. And I’m pregnant.” I had just found out the night before, the night I found out my mom had cancer, I found out I was pregnant with my second son.

I talked to my mom every day during my pregnancy, except the day after chemo, those were not good days. I researched cancer fighting foods and ovarian cancer. I went to my ob/gyn appointments, watched and felt my baby grow inside me, as my 1 year old was growing and changing every day. This was an emotional roller coaster. I was exhausted from pregnancy, overwhelmed by the heavy load of caring for a toddler and my husband(not a firefighter yet), and thinking about my mom. I began having palpitations and a dizziness spell that lead my doctor to send me to a cardiologist who put me on a heart monitor. My poor mom, the worry wart, was so concerned about me. I had electrodes all over my chest with this pager like thing tucked into a pocket, for about 10 days. I was miserable.

When I got the all clear to remove my electrodes, it was determined that the palpitations were not harmful and probably being caused by anxiety(shocker). Can you imagine me being anxious? Mom fighting for her life, a wild one year old, pregnancy hormones, and a husband going through paramedic school. FUN TIMES!!

Mom was a fighter, she had a few transfusions along the road of chemo. She always sounded cheerful, she was always checking on me and my guys, she was always taking care of everyone. My sister was pregnant too, and through mom’s chemo treatments mom was working on our babies needlepoints, something special she did for all her grandchildren.

As the months went on, my belly got bigger, and mom got weaker(although I never realized it at the time). She was starting to struggle with energy and even took a fall towards the end that left her on the floor all day until her husband got home from work. I was so upset with her that I didn’t talk to her for days after. I felt she needed more help, a plan in place, while her husband was at work and my sister and I were so far away.

9 months into her battle with ovarian cancer, I went into labor, 9 days before my scheduled C-section. I called my dad to let him know and he said, “Your sister is in the hospital too.” Hours later my sister gave birth to baby Jedidiah Patrick in Mississippi, and I gave birth to Evan Daniel, in Massachusetts,–twin cousins we called them.

I got to talk to my mom later on that day, and the next day. But by my third day in the hospital, I got off the phone with my mom crying. She wasn’t making any sense, she was quiet and losing her train of thought. I was convinced it had spread to her brain. My sister called mom’s husband and shared our concerns.

On discharge day as my wheelchair reached our blue envoy outside of the hospital, my phone rang, my mom’s husband Walter was letting me know that he was taking my mom to the hospital. By the next day, they were discussing hospice. But only shortly after, did she take a turn for the worse. Every phone in my house was ringing, cell phones, landlines, but as I was swimming in diapers and caring for a toddler, I receive the news that mom was being intubated and I needed to come say goodbye.

We made arrangements for our toddler, and my husband drove me and our baby to NY(C-section=no driving-wouldn’t want to pop my staples out). We picked up my sister and my baby nephew from the airport and went to the hospital. With no plan in place, we didn’t know how long we would stay. My childhood friends swooped in like super hero’s looking after our babies for hours while we sat with mom. We stayed in hotel rooms all over Brooklyn, wherever my father in law could use hotel points. I nursed almost every hour all night long as Evan was cluster feeding, and when he wasn’t nursing I was always waiting for the phone to ring. By day we walked at least 1/4 of a mile from the lobby to mom’s room, I remember holding my side, thinking my staples would come undone, looking back I probably should have been pushed in a wheelchair, but I kept a fast pace, rushing to my moms side, never knowing when her last breath would be.

Finally we were told, they just didn’t know, we felt it was time to go, so we got packed up, drove my sister and nephew to the airport, went back to the hospital to say one final goodbye, when the doctor told us, it could just be hours away. We paged my sister at the airport and went back to get her. More long hospital days and sleepless nights followed. We visited the funeral home and shopped for a casket with our babies. We shopped for a dress for mom to be buried in with our babies. And finally, we wrote letters to the hospital board asking them to unplug the machines, with our babies. And then we said good bye. Mom wasn’t gone yet, but it was time to go home. The next day, a beautiful Sunday afternoon at the playground in August, I got the call, she was gone.

Mom was always caring and compassionate, even in her dying days, it was like she was making sure her daughters and grand babies were ok before she gave up the fight. God’s hand was all over this, and to anyone who ever questions the very existence of a good God, I would argue, with this story as my ammunition. Yes, it sucked to lose my mom to cancer, it sucked so bad that it was SUCKTASTIC! But seriously, my sister and I gave birth hours apart, my mom fought for 9 months, the duration of our pregnancies. Who else could plan all that but God. You could call it a coincidence, but I call it a godincidence.

I relay for my mom. I relay for cancer research, cancer prevention, and a cure, so that maybe some day, some one won’t have to lose their mom to a cancer that is so silent, it swoops in with invisible symptoms. I relay so that one day a 63 year old woman diagnosed with ovarian cancer will have better odds of survival than my mom did.

I relay for my father in law. Diagnosed with liver cancer with only months to live and no treatment. I relay because 4 months from diagnosis to death is not enough time to say goodbye. I relay so that one day an otherwise healthy 60 year old won’t be taken from his family so young and so quickly.

Tomorrow from noon to midnight I will Relay with my family and friends as we honor, celebrate, remember, and fight back, to make a world with less cancer, and more birthday’s. So if anyone is near Weymouth High School tomorrow, come give me a hug and walk a lap with me. Stay for a few minutes, stay for 12 hours. Hear life changing stories, see faith in action, witness love. And if you feel lead, you can make a donation at the link below. Thank you for reading my story.

https://secure.acsevents.org/site/SPageServer?pagename=my_fundraising&pc2_page=center&fr_id=80878

“Red Light”

By David Nail

So this is how it ends
This is where it all goes down
This is what “I don’t love you” feels like

It ain’t the middle of the night
And it ain’t even raining outside
It ain’t exactly what I had in mind
For goodbye

At a red light in the sunshine
On a Sunday
Nothin’ to say
Don’t even try

Some are comin’ home
Some are leavin’ town
While my world’s crashin’ down
On a Sunday
In the sunshine
At a red light

I thought she was gonna say
Somethin’ about that couple kissin’
Crossin’ the street
Or somethin’ about this beautiful day

But she just looked me in the eye
Said it’s over
Didn’t try to lie
Or pick a fight
I might have seen it comin’ thata way

But at a red light in the sunshine
On a Sunday
Nothin’ to say
Don’t even try

Some are comin’ home
Some are leavin’ town
While my world’s crashin’ down
On a Sunday
In the sunshine
At a red light

There’s a momma calmin’ down a little baby
In the backseat in front of me
There’s an old man dressed in his Sunday best
Just waitin’ on green
But I can’t see, gettin’ past

This red light
In the sunshine
On a Sunday
Nothin’ to say
Don’t even try

Some are comin’ home
Some are leavin’ town
While my world’s crashin’ down
On a Sunday in the sunshine
(at a red light)

At a red light in the sunshine
On a Sunday
Nothin’ to say
Don’t even try

Some are comin’ home
Some are leavin’ town
While my world’s crashin’ down
On a Sunday
In the sunshine
At a red light [x4]

 

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