Monday, July 4, 2011
Walking for Sue
Okay, so it's getting to crunch time with the Weekend to End Women's Cancers. I'm just over half-way to raising the minimum $2,000 and the cut-off for mailing in cheque donations is July 22. (Online donations made by day one of the walk [August 13] will count towards my minimum.)
When I started out, I shared some stories about the people I'm walking for - my cousin Pam who shared her story on my blog, and Joyce, a family friend who passed away last winter.
There is one story I have been hesitant to share. My mother-in-law, Sue, died six months before my husband and I got married. That's her with my husband, he's the wee guy in front, my sister-in-law Connie on the right and cousin John on the left. John's wife, Chrissy, is the captain of the Juggernauts, the team I'm doing the walk with.
Sue had lung cancer, which technically isn't one of the women's cancers I'm walking for. However, lung cancer accounts for more than 1/4 of cancer deaths every year. There was a point when I recall studies indicated that lung cancer rates were climbing for women, though according to the Canadian Cancer Society, those rates are now leveling off.
My point is, whatever the type of cancer she had, the sense of loss I felt when she died was beyond anything I could have imagined. She is the most significant woman in my life who I have lost to cancer.
We didn't know each other for that long. We had only met each other a handful of times before George and I got engaged one spring. I do clearly remember him calling his parents that night. I also remember her excitedly shouting, "Connie, you have a sister!" when I was on the phone with her.
From Tom Jones to Loss, Sadness & Anger
I remember staying up late with her, George and Joyce (who I've mentioned) drinking way too much wine. Sue and I bonded over our mutual fondness of Tom Jones and George Carlin. I remember her laughing at my hungover state the next day. It wasn't long after this that she was diagnosed with lung cancer.
She stayed positive for much of her treatment, which included removing a good chunk of one lung (may have been the entire lung, my husband and I can't remember which it was), chemo and radiation. She cut out a picture from a magazine of the dress she wanted to get for her son's and my destination wedding booked the following spring. And she talked about how much she wanted to see the Mayan Ruins on our trip. Before Christmas that year, she died. December 6, 1997.
I won't go into details. I think most of us have lost someone close to us to cancer. In the end, it looks the same. And in the end, that sense of loss, sadness and anger is similar for many of us, though the reasons behind those emotions may vary. I selfishly felt ripped off. Here was this amazing person who became a part of my life and poof, gone. I was devastated watching my significant other, my father-in-law and sister-in-law work through grief in their own ways.
The Ways I Miss Her
I still miss her in many ways. I miss Sue when:
1) Our son asks about "my other Grandma."
2) Our son does something quirky and I can't ask her whether her kids did the same thing. (Let's face it, moms have a memory bank like no other.).
3) I look at a picture of her and my husband.
4) I look at a picture of her and my father-in-law, her usually laughing and him usually looking mischievous.
5) I hear someone refer to having one too many as being in their cups.
6) I hear Tom Jones' Delilah.
7) I go through my jewelry and see one of her rings.
8) Mother's Day.
9) My husband tells a funny childhood story - I want to hear her version of it!
10) I see the colour peach (it was the colour of the dress she wanted to wear at our wedding - must have been a favourite, judging by the above photo of her with George, who gets a huge thanks for allowing me to share his family photos).
So my point of all this is, regardless of the type of cancer she died of, I miss my mother-in-law. A lot. And if by taking part in the Weekend to End Women's Cancers I help prevent someone else from feeling that mixture of loss, sadness and anger, I'll feel like I accomplished something truly significant.
If you wish to donate, simply click on the pink badge at the top of this story or click here. If you prefer to mail a cheque, there's a form you need to print out on the website which ensures your donation goes towards my fundraising efforts. Or you can do it online with a credit card. If you're feeling particularly brave, you could also join our team. Let 'em know I sent you when you fill out your info online and that will raise another $100 on my behalf!
Thanks again and much love to all who have donated. It really means a lot to me.