Friday, June 26, 2009

In Honor of and in Memory of...

I apologize in advance for how long this post is. However, I ask that if you read any of my posts, you read this one. It would mean a whole lot to me!

For those of you that know me, you know my sweet beautiful mother (MAW as my husband likes to call her) has had breast cancer on and off for the last 25 years. She got sick this last time in December of 2003. She chose to have a double mastectomy and, Praise the Lord, has been healthy since.

During her recovery, we found out that my Aunt Fees (that's not her real name, but it is what I have always called her) also had breast cancer. It was really hard to watch my mom nurse her baby sister to health while they both struggled with the same awful disease.

Fast forward a few years, my mom has improved, however my Aunt still was struggling. One Friday in November 2006, my mom called me to let me know that she had just admitted my Aunt into the hospital. The chemo had made her dehydrated. I wasn't to worry. My mom told me they were going to give her fluids and that I should pray, but not worry.

The very next day (Saturday) I received another phone call. My Aunt was not doing well. The doctors were telling us that my Aunt was in "her final days". Holy heck, how did that just happen!

I visited my Aunt in the hospital on Sunday and we talked and joked around. I secretly hoped the doctors were wrong. She seemed to happy and healthy to me. Either way, I went back home to my family.

On Sunday evenings, we always watch Extreme Makeover: Home Edition together as a family. This particular show focused on a young woman with breast cancer and her relentless support of the American Cancer Society Relay for Life. I considered telling my family that the show wasn't on that night just so I didn't have to watch it. However, when my son came in the room and asked me if we were going to watch "our show" tonight, I smiled and hugged him and told him that "yes, we are".

I was really moved by the show, but didn't really have a lot of time to think about it. The next day (Monday), we moved my Aunt into hospice. She had taken a noticeable turn for the worst, and I wondered if the doctors were right. All afternoon there was a parade of people coming to see her. By the evening, she had stopped talking. She was only blinking and squeezing hands.

I waited until everyone had left and walked into her room. She smiled and told me to come sit down. I realized that she was just choosing not to speak earlier, but that she still could. She told me 3 things:
1) She was very proud of me and everything that I had accomplished.
2) She told me that I was beautiful and that I looked like her (not my mom). This made me laugh out loud :)!
3) She told me that I would make a difference and that I would figure out how to do it.

I kissed her, told her I loved her and went home. By the next morning, she truly was not speaking. I had had my last words with her. My precious Aunt Fees had passed away on Tuesday, November 14, 2006.

I immediately got involved. For the last 3 years, I have walked in the American Cancer Society Relay for Life. For the last 2 years, I've led my own team! For those of you that don't know what the Relay for Life is, it's a 12 - 24 hour event where different teams come together and raise money to fight cancer. The event is usually held at a stadium or other place where each team brings a fund raiser and commits to having a walker on the track at all times. The event usually lasts all night long. It can become uncomfortable. But, you know? Cancer is uncomfortable. I can do this!

Our Campbell County Relay was this past Saturday and Sunday. Here are some of my pictures from the event.

This is my co-leader Tami. She had a new turquoise phone that I kept making fun of because it looked like a teenagers phone. Tami and I actually went to high school together, work at the same place, and go to church together. We've become quite good friends through all of this. She is a fundraiser machine!

This was one of our fundraisers. Each year, we partner up with a company called Little Monkeys. Little Monkeys donates one (or more) of their "bouncy things" to our event. We charged $2 a slide or $8 to be able to slide as much as you want. We kept this thing opened until 2:00 in the morning! Let's just say it was a hit!

As you can see from this picture, it was HOT!!!! Here are 2 of our team-mates cooling off under our team tent.

This is my sweet boy decorating a luminaria bag in honor of his Grandma (MAW). I loved that they let the kids do that this year! Just for the record, he is that wet because of the iced towel around his neck. Although he liked the towel because it made him look all "sweaty and manly". Boys!?!?!

This is Colin behind his luminaria bag right before the ceremony started.

During the luminaria ceremony, the track is lined with all of the lit luminaria bags. The lights are completely dimmed and they read the names over the speakers. It is a very prayerful beautiful ceremony.

Like I said earlier, the relay runs ALL NIGHT LONG! My sweet boy begged me if he could come with me this year and stay all night. I told him as long as he was good, he could stay. At one point he looked at me and told me he was tired. I turned my back on him for 5 seconds and turned around to this precious site :).

Thank you for reading.
Love, K

P.S. - My family has been through genetic counseling, and we do not carry the breast cancer gene. However, given my family cluster, I'm still at a much higher risk than the normal to get cancer in my lifetime. I beg each of you to do monthly exams! I do my exam on the 27th of every month (since that is my lucky number). If you are 40 or over, please talk to your doctor about getting a mammogram. I can assure you it doesn't hurt as much as cancer might!


  1. Cancer has hit too many times in my family, too. I'm so sorry that you lost your aunt! It's just not right.

    Thanks for posting your story!

  2. Must I constantly remind you that it's time to post? Don't make me shake my finger at you!

  3. This was such an inspiring post. Good for you for your fundraising work and thank you so much for the important reminders about the brevity of life- and monthly exams!