Michelle's Final Wish

Being a terminally ill cancer patient, Michelle was given a “wish” in the last months of her life. Rather than use that wish on herself, she used it to have Idina Menzel (of the Disney movie “Frozen”) come to the hospital to sing with our 3-year old daughter, Pilar. That was the kind of mother she was: always putting Pilar first. 

In November of 2013, Michelle was diagnosed with stage 3 Triple-negative breast cancer. We had just celebrated her 34th birthday and were planning for the holiday season with our families. Later, we discovered she tested positive for a BRCA genetic mutation which explained why she had acquired this disease so young despite otherwise perfect health.
The Triple-negative breast cancer Michelle had is rare and the treatment options were both limited and painful Despite the odds being stacked against her, Michelle was not only determined to beat her cancer, but also refused to let it put her life – and ours – on hold. She continued to work full-time and even carried her laptop and work cell phone to all sixteen grueling chemotherapy sessions and scheduled her radiation treatments for 5:45 am so she wouldn't miss any time at the office.

More importantly, she continued to be an amazing mother to our daughter Pilar throughout her fight with cancer. She never missed a play-date or holiday gathering and even managed to whip together a wonderful Curious George-themed 3rd birthday party for Pilar when the cumulative effect of the treatments had taken their toll and left her fatigued and weak. That's just who she was. She never felt sorry for herself or asked for anything from others. Michelle was truly one-of-a-kind.

In late August of 2014, Michelle was diagnosed with leptomeningeal disease, a rare and ominous complication from her cancer. Knowing she had limited time left, her primary concern was that her death not effect Pilar's quality of life and future any more than the already unimaginable. Our friends mentioned starting this fund for Pilar and that brought a smile and some relief to Michelle in her last days.

Michelle passed away peacefully while sleeping on October 10th, 2014. I was holding her hand while this beautiful soul who has made my life more whole than I could have ever imagined, left this earth. She was a truly loving, courageous human being, an incredible mom, and the best partner I could have ever asked for.
I realize the best way for me to honor Michelle's life is to do just that. The last gift I want to give her is to give Pilar the happiest and fullest life possible. This is of importance now more than ever; child psychologists say that it’s critical that a child has stability in their life right after they lose a parent. And with the loss of Michelle’s income, that stability is going to be much harder to maintain. To have to change routines, switch preschools, and even move into a new home to offset this loss would make the impact of Michelle's passing much more difficult for Pilar.

Michelle’s death is a tragedy. She lost her life too soon. Our family lost her too soon. The hardest part is knowing that Pilar will grow up without the kisses, the cuddles, the bedtime stories, the motherly support through her adolescence, her mom’s presence when she graduates college, or the simple comfort of mama’s hand to hold when she meets life’s challenges.
The good news is that Pilar has Michelle’s blood in her veins. I can already see Michelle’s strength and resilience within her, which makes me confident she’s going to be okay. And as her father, my life is committed to making sure of that. But if there’s a way I can make life without her mom a little better – a little easier – I know I’ll have fulfilled Michelle’s final wish. So, I'm pushing my pride and ego aside and asking for your support. 

Thank you. It means the world to us.

All proceeds (minus a donation to Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center to help research BRCA genetic mutations) will be placed in a UTMA account for Pilar to help her maintain some stability during this difficult transition and provide for her education and development.
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Dereick Wood 
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