My memories of cancer begin before I was born. I’m told I am a clone to my Grandma J; the grandma I never met. There was a room all made up for her in the back of our house. She was coming to live with us near the same time I was going to arrive into our family. I like to think we passed as angels along our route. Grandma J had cancer. That is how final it is. Right at the beginning cancer infected my life.
Grandma Bessie was taken the day before my 16th birthday. Thanks Cancer. Your timing is impeccable.
I have a favorite photo in our bathroom wall of fame that shows Laureen, my mentor and friend. She and I went to the hat shop together to cover her beautiful head as the chemo took its toll. She is wearing the hat we chose and she looks so vibrant. Laureen spoke to me for an hour the day before breast cancer claimed her. She asked about each one of my kids by name. She told me she loved me. Laureen’s words and guidance are with me daily. Cancer can’t take those away.
My Dad actually died of kidney failure caused by congestive heart failure. I like to say his heart was so big it broke. Before he died he was diagnosed with prostate cancer. I remember his pride. Cancer tried to take that away too. He wouldn’t let it. Take that Cancer.
“Wake her up Momma.” My 5-year-old son said as he gazed at the love of his life so still and cold. He had asked her to marry him only a summer before. How can the beauty of Allie be a part of the ugliness of cancer. There is nothing that can make your heart heal when a child is not permitted to grow older. Nothing. The only thing you can do is put one foot in front of the other and you share the great works of Allie’s Angels. (http://www.alliesangels.com/)
There are so many other names to add to the list. I can’t help but think of Denise who didn’t have the chance to watch her young boys grow into beautiful caring young men. There’s Steve who brought a cheer to every MSU event he could touch.
And then there are the survivors. Their stories have touched me just as powerfully.
JZ - Zimmerman. Colon Cancer tried. Oh yes it tried. He met me over lunch to have me shop for gifts for his Wife for Christmas just in case he wasn’t present to give the presents. Can you imagine even thinking that. I’m told they were the best gifts Annie ever received. We can laugh about it now. We laugh in the face of cancer. John is healthy – and that is our greatest gift.
I remember the fear in our family that cut to the bone when Leukemia came calling to our daughter’s best friend Lindsey. She is living a vibrant life in London with her charges calling her Mary Poppins. There is magic in surviving.
I will walk in Relay for Life with my colleagues. I will walk in memory and in honor of the names I have mentioned. I will walk for friends who need support and for everyone who will benefit – when there is a cure. The name says it all. Relay is for Life.
Lynne Jarman-Johnson is Chief Marketing Officer for Consumers Credit Union.
Learn more about the fight against cancer: http://www.cancer.org/index
Join the Consumers Relay team:
Relay For Life Of Kalamazoo County
June 9-10, 2012
10am at Kalamazoo County Fairgrounds
Relay For Life Of Van Buren County
June 9-10, 2012
10am at Bangor High School
Relay For Life Holland/Zeeland:
June 15-16, 2012
2pm at West Ottawa School
Relay For Life Of Branch County (Coldwater):