Posted by: Run For Life | 8 August, 2007

Happy yet poignant day

Today marks the passing of my grandmother.  I have many mixed emotions about this and I never really delve into this topic but I think it is suiting for this blog.

My grandmother was vibrant, fun, classy, independent, humourous, kind, humble, beautiful, and had a huge heart.   Everyone that had the privilege of knowing her loved her.  She always treated her family and friends better than herself.  She loved to see everyone smiling and tried her best to make you happy.  She always believed in me, never pointed out anything negative about myself, and knew what to say if I needed cheering up.  There are so many other words to describe her but I hope this has in essence captured a little bit about her.

When she was diagnosed with cancer I remember it feeling all too surreal.  Not my grandmother.  It had to be a mistake…much to my horror, it wasn’t.  She underwent treatment and surgery that made her look frail and I remember thinking “If I hug her will I hurt her?”  The surgeon sliced some nerves by mistake which caused half her face to sag and look frozen.  You could tell she felt self conscience about it but she would not admit it or she’d poke fun at herself instead.

She was diagnosed with a cancer that only 0.010% of people get.  There was no specific treatment for it because it was so rare (I believe only 30 people were diagnosed with it ever by the time she found out…all had passed away.) So the surgery tried to remove all of the tumours and the radiation/chemo was just a hopeful afterthought.

She went into remission and she started to get her colour back in her face and gain some strength. All too soon we found out the cancer was back and this time with a vengeance.  What she thought was bronchitis turned out to be hundreds of tiny tumours in her lungs metastasizing rapidly also affecting her liver, kidneys, bones, brain, and other vital organs.  My family hopped on a flight…only six hours…yet she could be dead by the time we arrived.

Fortunately, she was still alive when we landed.  Her smile lit up the room when we walked in and I was so thankful to see her joking around like the woman I knew and loved.  She went into hospice care that day.  The next few precious weeks consisted of taking care of her.  She did not want anyone knowing she was in pain because she did not want to worry us…her appendages even started to turn purple because she would lie about how much pain she was in (on a scale of 1-10 she always answered with a 4 or under.)  Lots of people came to visit her, give flowers, and support.  She did not pass away until every single family member had visited…she knew we were all coming, and she held on.  Slipping into a coma the day of her birthday…even still my little cousins made her decorations and threw a birthday party for their Nanny.  A few days after she passed away.

I miss her.  I am so thankful I had such a wonderful role model in my life.  That I received such love from her and have infinitely benefited  from seeing how amazing of a person she was.  Though this entry is depressing I have been able to remember brilliantly happy childhood memories and such great conversations I shared with her.   I have been celebrating the fact she had such a full life.  I strive to be even half of the great woman she was in my lifetime.

Before she entered her coma she asked me to promise her something on her deathbed.  I have not been able to fulfill that promise yet but I will.  Running this marathon, raising money for cancer research for a type that does not have reasonable survival stats is helping me keep that promise.  It’s helping me keep her memory alive and hopefully it’ll keep others from passing away.  No one should witness their loved ones and friends battle cancer and when it comes right down to it, that’s what this marathon is all about.  I love you, Grandma.

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