If you're reading this story, then I'm very sorry. It means you or someone you love dearly has or had brain cancer. I hope this story inspires you to take hold of this time in your life. Whether you're looking for comfort or hope, I pray you find it.
My Aunt Von was diagnosed in '09 with GBM, a nasty and aggressive cancer. After a good fight from the medical team, she was given a poor prognosis and sent home. Hospice was called, and we all cringed, some of us even crying, while the nurse questioned her about her end of life wishes. Complicating matters was the issue of the tumor pressing aggressively into her speech center. She could no longer think of the words to say, and when she could, most of the time her mouth wouldn’t let her speak. We had very little time, yet so much to do.
I remember going over to my aunt’s house in late summer to help clean up after a nasty storm. She wasn’t eating much those days, so before I headed over, I made a meal I knew she couldn’t refuse; my homemade angel food cake. I remember unwrapping it for her, still warm from the oven. She looked at it with hesitance and tore a small bite off. Her face lit up and she smiled as she tore into a big hunk of the sweet, sticky cake, letting out a deep “Mmm”. I smiled too. Because in that moment I was standing in her kitchen, elbow to elbow, cooking New Years Eve Dinner. We were shaking our butts to a lame Justin Timberlake song, she was cutting cheese, and I was stuffing cabbage rolls. Because in that moment I was camping in the middle of the woods, shoving a big bowl of her fried potatoes into my mouth, while she sliced onions to make another batch. Because in that moment, it was 6am, and we had been up all night baking hundreds of cupcakes for her grandchildren’s entire elementary school. We were slap happy and silly, high on sugar and good conversation; the kind that people just don’t have anymore. Because in that moment I was scared, and didn’t know what else to do. I was sad that all of my moments might not be enough. So we fought like hell, and we fought to the bitter end. That winter we laid my dear aunt to rest, right next to her mother and father.
I still cry and that’s ok. You can cry too. It’s scary. It hurts. But, you're not alone. You're walking down a well-worn path which we have travelled too. Don’t stop. Keep walking. Keep fighting. Keep remembering.