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Hope

May 10, 2012 5 comments

Since I haven’t written in a while, and I’m not sure when I will find time to fill you in on all that’s going on lately, I figured the least I could do was share Gretchen’s blog from the HERALD today that mentions the Race for Hope team.

In our fourth year, we raised nearly $10,000. Not too shabby! (If you want to help us get to $10K, it’s not too late!) Our team was once again in the top 50 in terms of fundraising.

I expected that each year it would get easier to do the race. Not physically, but emotionally. But for the fourth time, I was shocked when at random moments I was overwhelmed and on the verge of tears. …for many reasons.

For one, the race has grown SO much since the first year we started. We used to be the only team in sight at our meeting place. Now we share those steps with at least 6 or 7 other teams. Sure it’s great that so many more people are working to raise awareness and funds to fight brain cancer, but it’s also a sad sign that so many more people are being affected by it.

At the beginning of the race, survivors (dressed in yellow) release yellow balloons into the air. It’s certainly a sight to see. …but at the same time, it pisses me off that I don’t know any survivors. And I know too many that are gone.

It was a little shocking this year to walk behind a team carrying a sign “In memory of Mary Frances.” It reminded me of the time we went to a family cemetery and I saw a gravestone with my name on it. It shocks you. I nearly stopped right in the middle of the giant crowd of walkers.

But as I told Gretchen in the blog above, as emotional as the beginning of the race is for me, what I look forward to most is the end. I always watch for the first yellow shirt (survivor) to finish – usually a good 40 minutes ahead of me. I look forward to getting three miles into the race and seeing people in yellow shirts – sometimes struggling, but always excited – SO happy to finish the race with their family and friends.

I look forward to the day when our fundraising will make a difference. And I hope that some day, I might know someone in a yellow shirt.

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Lessons in Relativity

August 24, 2011 Leave a comment

I think it’s an understatment for me to say that this week has been crazy.

But in all of it, there have been several lessons in how all things are relative.

Friday night, shortly after the doctors told us Finn most likely has lymphoma, another family was brought in to use the bed on the other side of the curtain in Finn’s room. The family arrived, and they were a mess. The mom was hysterically crying, the boy screamed whenever anyone touched him. It was a crazy time.

Part of me thought this was insane. We just heard a little boy had cancer. Our half of the room was calm and collected so as not to frighten him.

The other boy had hit a tree riding a bike. His jaw was broken, but they’d cleared him of any injuries to his head and neck. I had to remind myself many times that all things are relative. This mother was in shock and upset and rightly so. But at the same time, her son would be fine. He did not have cancer.

Yesterday, our world was shaken, once again. And quite literally.

The east coast went crazy when the 5.8 scale earthquake hit. While the news went crazy and twitter and Facebook nearly blew up with tweets and posts about what people experienced.

Of course people on the west coast thought we were all insane. A piddly 5.8? They eat them for breakfast!

But…in all relativity…this earthquake was felt by the most people out of any earthquake in US history. Of course we’re going to talk about it and share our experiences. But while we were talking about them, few people didn’t also mention Japan and/or Haiti. It did remind of how minor this was compared to how it could have been.

I’ve alway attempted to not blow things out of proportion and to try to be level headed. Things like this week’s events remind me that everything is relative to every person. Sure everyone deserves a chance to freak out, but they might also keep in mind that at least we weren’t trapped in our houses, and that maybe when you do feel like freaking out, you might wonder if the person next to you is silently dealing with much more difficult news.

Thoughts and Prayers for Mr. Finn Today

August 22, 2011 4 comments

I normally ask nothing of my readers except maybe a little feedback. Today, I’d like to request your thoughts and prayers.

My godson/nephew Finn underwent surgery last week to correct a problem in his bowels. While there, the doctors found a tumor that was removed and sent off for testing.

Today, he’ll undergo a CAT scan to make sure there isn’t anything left/anything anywhere else in his little body.

Finn is  a trooper. By Saturday he was able to start drinking again, last night he had a dinner of chicken nuggets, french fries, and vanilla pudding. He’s having fun playing with all the Mylar balloons people have been bringing him, and trying to pinch the nurses with his little toes. He’s come a long way since Wednesday night!

But please send your thoughts and prayers his way that the rest of his journey here at the hospital can be as smooth and easy as possible.

Two years ago today…

May 31, 2011 2 comments

…my life forever changed.

I will never forget the moment. Charles and I were in his friend’s Jeep, about to head downtown for the annual birthdays celebration. My brother called (which is odd on its own), but I was in a Jeep with no top, and I figured he’d leave me a message. He called back three more times, so I figured I should probably return the call.

I think those few moments in the Jeep were the last carefree moments of my life. Dad was sick, but had traveled to Charlottesville the day before to receive his fourth degree with the Knights of Columbus. There were no signs of anything going wrong.

Just the way he wanted it.

Dad never wanted to suffer long or lose any of his faculties. It made him sad to meet formerly brilliant men who were affected with dementia. I can remember him telling me a few years early that that was one of his biggest fears…to seem so small and helpless when once he seemed so smart.

My brother was calling me home because Dad was declining. Fast.

When I got home and saw Dad, I congratulated him on getting his fourth degree the day before. “Is it still Sunday?” he sighed. The few hours it took me to get there seemed like an eternity to him.

Family filtered through…Mom’s sister’s family, the older grandchildren who could grasp what was happening, and Dad was lucky enough to spend his last weekend on earth with his little sister, who he’d always loved so much.

In those last few hours, my worldview changed.

I’ve prided myself on establishing my own life, an independant life. A life where I didn’t “need” anyone else.

But in those hours, I needed my family and they needed me.

I could see the strength that my Dad got from my mom…the strength to let go and let it be. I could see the strength that she got from him. The strength to let him go.

And the next morning when Charles arrived to do whatever he could do, he was my strength. All he had to do was sit in the living room and be there. The simple fact that he was there was plenty for me.

And it was in that moment that I knew I would marry him.

Two Months to Go!

March 2, 2011 Leave a comment

We’re less than two months away from the Race for Hope!

I’m so proud of my team. We’re ranked number 14 out of nearly 300 teams and keep rising in the ranks each day.

But at the same time, I’m sad.

The first year I did the race, my father was recently diagnosed with cancer. That year, it was SO easy to raise funds for the brain cancer cause.

Each year after that, it’s become harder.

Why might my team be doing so well this year? My boyfriend’s friends are joining the team.

Their father passed away from a GBM yesterday.

I’m grateful that we’ve been able to raise so much money for a worthwhile cause. But…My greatest wish right now is that maybe, for just 6 or 8 months, no one that I know would lose their father.

Ready to Race?

January 20, 2011 Leave a comment

First, I apologize. I’ve been a terrible blogger lately!

We’re preparing for a HUGE event at work, so hopfully after next week I’ll be better (although I’ve just taken on more responsibilities, so it sounds like maybe I’ll see you in May? No, there’s commencement. June?)

2010 Race for Hope Team

Anyway…Today, I finally took a few minutes for myself and recreated our Race for Hope team. My friend Kt and I started this team three years ago when my father was battling a GBM brain tumor (aka – the same kind Ted Kennedy had. Although Dad hated that reference. But he did sort of have Kennedy hair, didn’t he? Anyway…).

Kt’s step-father had died a few years earlier from the same cancer. Honestly, I’m not sure how I would have gotten through Dad’s illness in one piece without her. She taught me many important things.

1. Don’t google. You will find exactly the opposite of what you’re looking for.

2. Statistics are ridiculous and don’t mean a thing.

3. The worst thing you can do is take yourself too seriously.

4. But it’s ok to be angry.

Kt, Me, and Timmy the Tumor eating T-Rex.

It helped me feel less worthless and more like I was DOING something to have started this race team and raised money to fight tumors (Like a t-rex. T-rexes hate tumors).

It makes me sad that our team is growing because more people are being affected. But this year two of Charles’ friend (and a friend of theirs) will be joining us in honoring our fathers. I hope they can feel the same amount and type of love and support that I felt the first year I joined.

I’m so thankful for all the family and friends (and friends wo are like family) who have supported me and my family since Dad’s diagnosis in 2009.

If you’d like to join us on May 1, you can join our team online. Donations, thoughts, and prayers are also very appreciated 🙂

My Dad – More Bling than a Dominican Outfielder

September 8, 2010 2 comments

I had every intention of posting a recipe today (Shirmp and Pasta Salad)…that is until I went to change purses last night and I came across a letter my father wrote a friend of mine in October 2008. So as we approach his 61st birthday…this seemed more fitting.

And cousins and friends…thank you!

For more than 50 years I have had a mystical relationship with my mailbox, where I would send off box tops and coupons and a few coins and cherished childhood items would appear in 4-6 weeks. Correspondense with summer friends would keep us connected through the intervening three seasons. Four years of military, most of which was overseas, again kept me returning daily to my mailbox for a little something to connect me with my loved ones. Living 500 miles from most of my family that remained in Massachusetts keeps me anxiously anticipating the daily mail. All of thise I tell you to preface your wonderfully thoughtful gift and note that I received from you yesterday.

As 2008 drew on I was feeling more tired with each day and was actually relieved to learn the cause of my illness, I thought I was having a stroke up until the diagnosis of cancer. My surgery took place on the Feast of the Assumption and we celebrated with the Ancient Order of Hibernians a Mass in recognition of Our Lady of Knock on the first Saturday after my release from the hospital. The Mass has been held at Sacred Heart’s mission church, St. Bridget’s of the field in nearby Berryville. The AOH has been very generous in the construction of the church and Mariah and I donated a window in memory of our fathers. Someone subsequently donated a statue of St. Joseph that now stands in front of our window. It is the sunniest and coziest corner in the front of the church for morning and noon Masses.

About twice a week we try to attend Mass at St. Bridget’s. Noontime Mass often fits in with my morning radiation treatments and errand running…. Having received the gift of your holy water from Lourdes to supplement my stash from Knock, I take it as a small sign from Mary as a connection between her Marian Sites. On each of our four trips to Ireland we have visited the Shrine at Knock, never to ask her for any special favors but to thank her for those already given.

For a kid that started out in the projects of South Boston, the sixth member of a three generational family sharing two bedrooms and a pullout couch, it’s close to a miracle that I was born at all. My mother’s father moved in with us when my father went off to the war and upon my father’s return, my brother and I joined my older sister in the second bedroom and mom and dad were relegated to the sleep sofa. Four years later we bought a house in a nicer neighborhood and it has been onward and upward since.

I look back and I count my blessings to have had a good family and a good Catholic upbringing (8 years of parochial school), three smart and healthy children, two good spouses for Doug and Anne and eight beautiful grandchildren who live within 25 minutes of us. From the humble beginnings of the projects, I now wake up in our family home that was built when Washington was president and its most illustrious visitor was Stonewall Jackson.

I thought this battle with cancer would be the loneliest fight of my life but the outpouring of love and caring has been incredible. For two months now my friendly mailbox has been overflowing with get well cards, Mass cards, and now, holy water.  Some have apologized for their tardiness but I am so thankful for their consistency and length.

Thanks to prayer lists and the internet, I am being prayed for on six continents. My brother-in-law lit a candle at St. Patrick’s while in NYC. A friend in Germany while visiting Rome lit a candle in St. Peter’s and friends here in Winchester asked family in Ireland to light a candle when in Rome. Since they don’t allow candles in the Sistine Chapel, they lit one at the church above the Spanish Steps. …

There are over 100 get well cards suspended from the rafters of our family room, Mary’s doing. I have medals of St. Peregrine, St. Rita, Fr. Solanus Casey and the Infant of Prague. When I called my 2nd cousin in Ireland to have her uncle light a candle in Knock, she said her uncle was in Australia but she and her husband were leaving the next day for Prague. they left my name and a donation at the church of the Statue of the Infant and they will light a candle and say Masses.

In the back of my mind, I am slightly concerned about the effects of global warming from all these candles! Once I get all of these medals on a chain I should have more bling than a Dominican outfielder.

Our days are going well, midmorning we make a 25 minuite trip to get my radiation treatment. The treatments are exactly the same length as my morning prayers unless there are x-rays, which take 3 Hail Marys.

(8 days later)

Since I started this note, we have had two sets of cousins visit for a total of 5 days. We have had family visiting every weekend for 5 weeks. They are very welcome and have relieved Mariah of some of her chores. They have taken me to radiation and treated us to lunch or dinner. Seven more days of radiation and I get a three week break.

Ann, I wanted to thank you for your thoughtfulness and caring. Your note and gift of Lourdes water means so much to me but equally, I want to thank you for your friendship with Mary. It was not a hastily made decision to let our baby depart from Siler to the bustle of our nation’s capitol, but she did it with ease and surrounded herself with the best of friends. My “Little Angel Face never ceases to amaze.

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