I was raised by my mom and my grandmother. My dad left when I was a tiny, tiny baby, and my mom needed help. I had a close bond with my grandmother, but it was nothing compared to the bond that Trinity had with her.
From the moment Trinity was born, I could tell that my grandmother was in love. I mean, who couldn’t be? There’s just a special, special thing between a child and her great grandmother, or ‘Gram Great’ as Trinity eventually called her.
Gram Great was a smoker the majority of her life. She quit while I was a freshman in high school, after watching her sister lose the fight to lung cancer caused by asbestos exposure.
She didn’t quit soon enough, though, because she was eventually diagnosed with lung cancer. Thankfully a combination of radiation and chemotherapy helped force the lung cancer into remission. They had caught it early while it was just a small spot, and we thought everything was fine.
A few years later, she started having moments of confusion, moments where she’d forget what she was saying or just totally forget a word. We thought we were going to hear that she was developing Alzheimer’s or Dementia. Nothing could have prepared us for the news we received. I remember it like it was yesterday. I received the news that my grandmother had a brain tumor on our first Halloween in Jersey. I waited a day to tell Trinity the news. I knew it would break her heart, and I didn’t want it to ruin her favorite holiday.
The doctors started her on aggressive treatments, but her condition continued to deteriorate. She eventually had to stay at a nursing home. It was hard for my mom and aunts to get her to her appointments.
It soon became clear that the tumor was putting pressure on her brain in such a way that it was making her nauseous all the time. She was unable to keep her medication down. She was becoming even more confused. It was clear that she didn’t have much time left. My mom and her sisters, with my grandmother’s input, made the impossibly difficult choice to put her on hospice and stop fighting.
For the next few weeks, we tried to make the trip up to Central Pa from Jersey, but something always got in the way. There were snow storms and emergencies at Daniel’s work. It was breaking my heart to think that Trinity and I might not get to say goodbye. Thankfully, we got the chance. We were finally able to make it back. We spent a few hours sitting in her room talking to her. She was asleep, of course, but we took the opportunity to tell her everything that was happening in Jersey.
We left late that evening, and a few hours later we received that call that it wouldn’t be long. My mom and my aunts were with her that early morning when she took her last breath.
This was Trinity’s first experience with death, and it had to be one of her favorite people. How do you explain to an 8 year old that her Gram Great was gone? It broke my heart to relay the news to her, to see the pain in her face. It just wasn’t fair, but I guess death really isn’t ever fair.
This was also Trinity’s first experience with cancer, and she thinks it sucks. I think everyone can agree with her, right? When her Choir Teacher made the announcement that the choir would be performing at The Relay For Life in Mantua this year and that she was forming a team to participate, Trinity jumped at the chance.
She’s relaying for Gram Great. She’s relaying so less people have to lose someone they love in such an awful way. She’s relaying to kick cancer’s butt.
I hate asking for things, but she’s accepting donations for the American Cancer Society. If you would like to support her, you can make a donation with your debit or credit card through her Relay Page. If you’d like to make a cash donation, there’s a link with more information on that page, or you can contact me through any method listed on my Contact Me page. We’d really appreciate any support from you guys, but don’t feel obligated.
Hopefully one day cancer will be one of those diseases that ‘used to be a big deal’, just a bad memory.