Let me tell you a story about a woman. A woman who did so much in her life. She was a substitute teacher. A Real Estate Administrative Assistant. I think she’d say her most important job was being a good wife to her husband and being the mom to two rambunctious boys. It certainly took up the most of her time.
That was just stage 1 in her life.
There was a day in 1997 when they told her information that would shatter anyone. She had Lung Cancer. The 5% mean was two years.That means two years from when she was diagnosed, 19 of 20 people would have already passed away. But never tell her the odds, she was a fighter.
She would go through the hell of chemotherapy and when a spot was seen on her skull, radiation. Her hair fell out, she couldn’t even swallow water and was constantly sick. She moved in with her mother during treatment because it was closer to the hospital where she was being treated, and because she didn’t want her sons to see her that way.
She survived. It took a toll on her more then she could ever say. She fought, and fought and fought. Finally they stopped the treatment. The cancer was.. well it was not cured, but it was stable, and the treatment was doing more harm to her then it was the cancer.
The hair never really came back. She would put up with it grudgingly when her oldest son nicknamed her “Fuzzy” and would skritch her head for good luck. She never recovered enough to go back to work, but she still lived her life. She still fought. It was her nature.
Later, when that son was lying in his own hospital bed, and staring at the wall in a black funk, she told him what the doctor had told her just hours before. The judgement of the doctors was she was cancer-free. She knew what it was like to be hurting and scared. She never let it stop her. And she was willing to give some of that fight to everyone around her.
Unfortunately, cancer is a fighter too, and it staged a comeback. She would not live in fear. She would not let it claim her spirit. Even as other things took advantage of her ravaged immune system, she fought. She dealt with needing a cane. She dealt with needing to hold on to her husband’s hand when she needed to climb a step. She dealt with losing her balance and falling several times in the house.
Eighteen years. Eighteen long years. But she kept dealing with her problems. She was very good at dealing. And now, God has said to this woman.. “You have fought the Good Fight. You have finished the course. You have kept the faith”.
I think back to Thanksgiving dinner. How excited she was to be with her family. She always, ALWAYS had time for family. I feel so blessed that she got to spend time with all of us. How happy she was to find out how we all were doing. I rode home with her, and we talked about the Christmas lights we saw on the ride home. She loved Christmas, loved playing on the old electric piano we had, it wasn’t christmas time without her cd player playing a bunch of christmas tapes and CD’s. I think we’re all going to be a lot sadder this Christmas without her physical presence. But I am 100% sure that she will be in all our hearts and souls this Christmas. She will be a continuing presence in our lives, just like she did all her life.
Jim Valvano, the basketball coach and broadcaster, said in a famous speech about his own battle with cancer: ” Cancer can take away all my physical abilities. It cannot touch my mind, it cannot touch my heart and it cannot touch my soul. And those three things are going to carry on forever.”
And that woman, my mother, Patricia Yellope will carry on forever.
I love you Fuzzy, and I will always miss you.