Last year, my family was devastated to learn that the heart of our family bond, my mother Karen McCaffrey, was terribly ill with a cancerous brain tumor.
We celebrated a successful surgery to remove the tumor on October 10th, then despaired as the biopsy determined the tumor to be rare and likely aggressive. The formal diagnosis at the time was a grade III ependymoma. This cancer is both poorly understood and has limited research in effective treatment.
Proton therapy followed, along with the return of her functioning and independence. We had a few months of precious hope that this nightmare was over.
Then, in June, the symptoms began to return. Little things at first, easy to miss, easy to dismiss. In August, she and her husband Barry went on their annual road trip, a massive excursion through Montana and Yellowstone. Towards the end of the trip, her symptoms could not be ignored. They had become unbearable. Migraines, dizziness, and vomiting forced Karen and Barry to return home early for the second year in a row.
An MRI on Tuesday, September 11th, found new growth that indicated the likelihood of glioblastoma.
By Thursday, September 13th, she had lost all the independence that had been among her greatest traits. At the time of this writing, she is in hospice care and is preparing for her transition beyond this life.
My mother, in her incredible capacity for unconditional love, has brought so many lives together. Her kindness and devotion to family can never be overstated. In every little way we can, we are trying to return even just a fraction of the gifts she gave us so freely throughout her life in the form of a peaceful pathway out of this world. To fulfill her wishes for aftercare, and to ensure that her family can learn to cope with her sudden and painful absence, would be among the best gifts we can provide her.
She knows she is deeply, deeply loved, but we hope to honor her life as fully as possible. Every kind word and gesture, every meal and every cup of coffee, and every hug has been appreciated beyond what words can convey. Many people have asked how they can help our family in this unspeakably painful time. Please consider donating to my mom's hospice and aftercare. Funds will also be used to secure support and therapeutic resources for her family.
Thank you to all those who have given my mom the love she so deserves.