My story is all too similar with many you will read. My mother passed away after battling lung cancer for the greater part of a decade. Like so many, Deb Broderick fought cancer with grit and a determination that all of us should hope to have within us, but never have to use.
I can’t explain the emotional rollercoaster battling any disease is, that is simply something you need to experience or witness to understand. What I can explain was something I witnessed that was profound. Hope. Hope is equally exceptional and dangerous. On one hand it helps give us drive that the future is bright and on the other when hope is not fulfilled it pushes you down further than you were before. My mother carried a healthy balance of realistic and hopeful expectations. There were many, many medical advances during my mother’s battle with cancer that gifted all of us with being able to experience more milestones with her that without those advances she wouldn’t have been there for. Very rarely is there a silver bullet solution to something as complex as cancer, but many improvements and small wins aggregate to massive enhancements in both treatment and quality of life. Because of these advances my mom got to experience both my brother and sister getting married. She got to see college graduations and promotions at work that were reflective of good parental upbringing. She got to know my now wife and a few months before she passed away, she got to see us get engaged. My mom even got to know she would officially be a grandmother when she found out my sister was having the first grandkid in the family.
The second gift we were given was time, which I can’t express how important time is to anyone that hasn’t felt what it is like to not have it. Try to remember that math test growing up when the teacher says 5 minutes left and you start to sweat, that’s what it feels like but on steroids. Time allowed me to say all the things I wanted to say to my mom because of those advancements. We could live our lives together knowing time was truly finite and though I wish I had my mom with me today, I am thankful for the relationship we had knowing how delicate life was. Without medical advances, she wouldn’t have experienced those things and I wouldn’t have had time to say the things I needed to say. For all of this I am thankful and appreciate how lucky I am.
I would be lying if I said I wasn’t angry, mad, upset, bitter, the whole nine yards- I lost my mom. I am mad she didn’t get to meet her three grandkids Evelyn, Ben, and Owen. I am mad that I didn’t get to dance with her at my wedding. I am mad her family lost their friend and loved one. I am mad my dad lost the love of his life which their kids got to learn what marriage is all about through how they fought cancer together. I am mad, sue me.
But instead of just being mad, I work with and support the American Lung Association. I want to help give the greatest gifts I have ever witnessed, Time and Hope. Both I am thankful for we had more of than we would have years before, and angry about because I would have done anything to have more. I advocate for the ALA because they give those gifts. The gift of meeting grandkids, the gift of wedding dances, the gift of families being together longer, and the gift of wedding anniversaries.