In September of 2015, my mom, the kindest, silliest, most ridiculous person I had ever known, was diagnosed with lung cancer. She had gone to see her doctor about a slight wheeze she wanted to get cleared up before she went back to work as a teacher when the school year started. Several rounds of testing later, a tumor was found in her lung. She had never smoked, never so much as looked twice at a cigarette. We were shocked, confused, and angry.
This wasn’t just unfair, it wasn't just scary. This was a tragedy. Lung cancer is a tragedy.
She battled bravely over the next year, through multiple rounds of chemo and endless weeks of grueling radiation treatments. She fought as she had always lived—with unfailing faith and good humor, finding ways to laugh even on her worst days. Every day of treatment, she had a new joke for the staff, each one more terrible than the last. We wore Santa beards and elf hats to her last chemo treatment before Christmas. She wore a rainbow-colored wig to consult with her surgeon. She was the embodiment of hope when there was little and happiness when it was hard to find.
Lung cancer is ugly, undignified, and brutal. It does not care who you are, who you love, or how much you are needed. It took my mother, my best friend, my favorite person on the planet.
On October 22, 2016, my mom lost her fight, finally getting the rest and peace she deserved. Her absence echoes through our lives but so does the joy she brought to everything she did. Her family was her greatest pride, so we walk to honor her. We walk to keep her with us. We walk to make her proud.