Almost three years has passed since my sister Maria’s initial diagnosis. I am sad to report that we will not be marking this anniversary with a celebration as we initially hoped. Maria’s peritoneal mesothelioma has resurfaced and is has continued to get worse as her recent doctor’s appointment confirmed. We are devastated once again that she will be faced with battling this incredibly monstrous disease.
For those of you who do not know me - I am her sister. I have already watched her come through a battle like none I have EVER seen before. The surgery was life threatening and the recovery was nothing short of brutal. The chemo that followed was not standard and as such ravaged her body with pain and fatigue. Her recovery took years and she has paid a hefty price.
So I must ask myself over and over again - what can I do? What can I do?
First and foremost - I am asking for your prayers. Please pray for her and for our family. If you are not religious, please send positive energy and healing thoughts. Your encouraging words, an ear to listen or to vent, a shoulder to cry on, a hand to hold, a smile and lots and lots and lots of LOVE will be received with open arms.
For those of you that were with us on this journey the last time, you know that her doctor is not on her health insurance plan. As such we have had to do battle with the insurance company in order to substantiate the type of surgery he performs. It is innovative and cutting edge, but with that comes risk and financial cost. We do not know how long she will be out of work and we do not know how long Isaac will be out of work. In addition to the hotel bills in Washington DC and the unpaid time that will ensue, we have a most important and thankfully bright light to also think about – their beautiful 16 month old son Nathan.
I am asking for help financially. The funds raised will go towards the surgery, facility charges, post operative care, chemo treatments, hotel bills, and household bills. I know that so many of you helped before and we were so humbled by the generosity that you all offered. We are putting aside our pride and asking for your help in whatever way you can or are able.
On a personal note, here is the plain truth about it – I am angry. I am sad. I am frustrated…. because I alone cannot make her better. I cannot make this go away. I cannot believe that once again we are here at this place. Once again she is facing a life threatening surgery (exploratory cytoreductive surgery) and hipec -chemo, weeks of healing, rehabilitation and then upon her return home - courses of additional chemo. The various risks involved with this surgery and treatment are disconcerting. The struggle to stay positive is difficult at times.
But then, as the tears start to well and drip upon the pages I am writing, I take a deep breath. I take a look around. I see the baby bouncer that sits in my living room as well as children’s toys and books. It is a reminder to me that life has marched forward for us despite the challenges and Nathan is proof of that. He is proof that with faith and hope, we can move forward and overcome obstacles and this makes me smile. In addition to sister, daughter, wife, daughter-in-law, aunt, niece, cousin and friend….Maria is now a Mother. Because of this she is more eager than ever to go to Washington, have the surgery and fight her hardest to heal quickly so that she can return home to her greatest joy…. her beautiful son. He has been our greatest blessing. He is (no doubt) the newest love of our lives.
Cancer has not defined Maria as a person but it has taught us collectively - as a family - many things. Be grateful for each day. Let the little things go. Forgive others. Forgive yourself. Be in the moment. Put your phone down. Pick your head up and hold it high even when you feel defeated. Cry if you need to – it’s ok to let it out. Laugh hard and smile often. Say thank you. Be kind. Be grateful for all of your blessings. And most importantly ….Love like the first day – Every. Single. Day.
The outpouring of continued support all of these years has been absolutely incredible. I know that Maria feels the love and support around her each day and it gives her strength. From the bottom of my heart, I thank you for listening and for being there for our family.