RESILIENT. LOVING. BEAUTIFUL. SELFLESS. SURVIVOR.
When I think of my mom, these are the words that flood in. When she was diagnosed with breast cancer last January, I felt none of those. I felt devastation, fear, isolation and helpless.
As a family, we’ve endured more hardships than I’d like to recount but I will say, hearing my mother has cancer was my absolute worst nightmare. My mom brought us through so much in life. She carried us through the hard times without ever letting us know how much she was hurting, always saying that her biggest priority was making sure we knew we were loved. These are the kinds of things that can’t be understood as a child but as I’ve grown, I’ve come to know just who she is. And if there is one thing I’m sure of, I’m sure she is the most beautiful woman I will ever know.
Losing her was simply not an option. She knew and we knew it. Not after everything we had been through. And certainly not with everything we had to look forward to. Never did I think she would look at me with tears in her eyes and tell me she had cancer. I can’t explain what a crushing blow that was. In the days and weeks that followed her diagnosis, I think I felt every emotion possible. I felt anger about the unfairness of it all, I felt fear in the unknown, I was overrun with sadness every time I left her and I felt helpless every step of the way. We all knew this was her battle and no one was actually going to be able to fight it but her.
In ways I’ll never know how, she found the courage to take this thing head on. Mom didn’t let cancer slow her down. She didn’t let cancer keep her from work. She didn’t let cancer rob her of who she is. Not even on the days when the chemo got so bad that it took every ounce of strength she had to get dressed in the morning. Not even on the nights when she had to hang up because her breathing had become so restrictive that she couldn’t speak. And not even during the weeks when her temperature climbed to 103 on a nightly basis. No, not her. Mom didn’t so much as let cancer steal the Irish twinkle from her eyes. We all knew cancer didn’t stand a chance against her. If anyone could beat it, she could.
And she did. One year later, I write this with tears in my eyes because it’s a feeling you never forget, but also because I am so proud of her. I’ve had many of reasons to be proud of her but I never been more proud to call her my mother than I am today. My mom has always said that hard times bring out the best in people and that life is all about perspective. She’ll be the first one to tell you not to save that China for special occasions, and to take that trip while you have the opportunity, never mind if it’s a little outside your budget. She’ll say, live in the present, for you never know what tomorrow will bring.
I’d say she’s right.
This year, Andi Matthews and I have decided to run the Boston Marathon in her honor. We’re running it for a foundation introduced to us by her mother who is a nurse in Boston. Brigham and Women’s CHAT (Connecting Hope, Assistance, and Treatment) provides support for underprivileged women in the Greater Boston Area battling breast cancer. During the fight of their lives, they’re faced with the financial crisis associated with loss of work and insufficient insurance coverage to pay for necessary services and treatment related their diagnosis. With our fundraising goal of $5,000 we hope to ease some of the financial woes associated with their breast cancer diagnosis. Please take a moment and consider donating to this incredibly special foundation.
Thank you so much for your support.
Jen and Andi
Message from Andi-
Thanks so much for visiting our Marathon Fundraising Page! It’s been quite the journey with training already and the mileage is only increasing these days. As challenging as training can be at times, (especially in the winter) we have the best kind of motivation pushing us along!
Last January, my best friend Jen’s mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. Jen and I have been roommates for ten years…yep ten! A little crazy, I know. We were practically babies starting college and a decade later it’s safe to say that we’ve pretty much grown up together. A lot happens in ten years and as you can imagine we've been side by side for some very happy moments and some very scary ones as well. Needless to say, we really are family at this point!
As many of you who will visit this page already know, Martha “M.NO” North is truly one of a kind! I feel incredibly blessed to have her in my life and as I sit here thinking about her I can't help but smile. She is an absolute bundle of love and the heart and soul of her very special family. Her quiet and understated strength is something that I’ve always known but witnessed first hand throughout her battle this past year. Martha faced an awful situation with beauty and grace, finding ways to laugh every step of the way. She has taught me so much about life-- mostly not to take it too seriously and that it’s okay to get into a little mischief! Life is simply too short. :-)
I’m happy and relieved to say that Martha is cancer-free these days and am so grateful for the treatment that got her to where she is today! I’m sure that all of you have been affected by cancer in some way, and many of you by breast cancer, specifically. There is no feeling more helpless than seeing someone you love suffer. As Jen mentioned above, Brigham and Women's CHAT program is doing amazing things for underpriviledged women with breast cancer. Just think-- $350 buys a wig for a woman with breast cancer who can't afford one. The battle with cancer alone is daunting enough, worrying about being able to afford a wig is something we don't want these women to have to think about! We are commited raising AT LEAST $5,000 for this cause. Anything you can contriubute would mean so much to us!
In addition to Martha, I’ll have survivors Ann Goldsmith, Gail Wingert, Nancy McCann and Melissa Mewis in my heart on Marathon Day.
Martha- I look forward to many more Nantucket beach days and ever-expanding bucket lists. Running the Boston Marathon for you will be checking a big one off of mine. I love you!