Thursday, September 20, 2007

I Look Up To ______________ Because...

This is an easy prompt.

I look up to my baby sister Mary because of the way she handled her illness, her treatment and her death. I'm not saying she was perfect and I'm not saying that she had bad days. Yes, she railed against the diagnosis, went into denial, screamed at the fates - all of it. But for the most part, she was so positive about it - "Yeah, I've got cancer, deal with it and let's get on with it."

Mary used what she was going through as a way to reach out to people and be an advocate for breast cancer awareness and information. She would show people her scars, her reconstruction. She would take the time to talk to people about her treatments and what she was going through. She even left a blog of her experiences that I believe people may still be accessing:

Even when she knew the cancer was back and something she would have to live with, she wanted to fight so that she could watch Audrey grow up and be there for her. She had things she wanted to do, and against all odds even accomplished some of them. I still don't know how she found the strength to go to Walt Disney World in early April, 2004 - just 6 weeks before she died. But she wanted to take Audrey to Disney World and show her why it was a favorite place to go.

And when she discontinued treatment, she worried that she was letting people down - no way! She fought the terrible beast, but it finally got to be stronger than she was. She wasn't quitting, she decided to die with dignity and make the most of the time she had left. Unfortunately, it was only a matter of weeks.

She planned her death much like she fought her battle - she tried to make it as easy on the family as possible. She planned her memorial service, going as far as to provide links on where to find the songs online she wanted at her service. She left a list of things she wanted Audrey to know/remember about Mommy.

And she gave me hope when I found out that she saw Daddy before she died... the hope that he was there for her and that there is definitely a better place after.

I miss her as much as ever, but I try to face life without her with courage carry her message forward, especially the message of breast cancer awareness. And I try to help Audrey know her mother, especially as Audrey is growing up and not remembering as much of when she was younger.

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