Saturday, August 25, 2012

Why I need YOUR help supporting Komen's Race for the Cure this year

I am a proud Board member for the North Central Alabama chapter of Susan G. Komen for the Cure. Why do I support Komen? For one reason: I do it in memory of my late mother.
(Mom's last Christmas - December 1999)

My mother, Diane Jenkins Jersey, was the best woman I have ever had the honor of knowing, and it would mean more than anything to have her alive today. I am preparing to become a mother for the first time myself, and her presence is the single thing I want more than anything. Unfortunately, she passed away from breast cancer 12 years ago, at the age of 50.

If you had known my mom, you would know that she wanted nothing more than to raise her children and see them become parents…and then, spoil her grandchildren completely rotten. I hate the fact that she missed on the chance to live long enough to experience that joy, especially now that the arrival of this little one is imminent.
(Mom and me - April 1976)

My mom was first diagnosed when I was a senior in high school, and battled bravely and valiantly while my brother, a junior named Kevin, and my sister, a middle schooler named Jessica, went about trying to live our lives as normally as possible. She tried to keep the true extent of her illness from us, wanting us to be shielded from the side effects of the chemotherapy she was taking, and if we ever expressed concern for her, she valiantly deflected it or assured us that she was in good hands, that my dad was taking good care of her, that the doctors and nurses were providing excellent care, that her friends were supporting her, and that God was comforting her.

Just in time for my high school graduation, my mom finished her treatments, and at my graduation party, she bravely debuted her new shorter haircut, going without her wig for the first time, in public. I had never been more proud or more impressed by her strength.
(Mom and me - circa Summer 1995 or 1996)

She was in remission for about 6 years after that. My brother and I both graduated high school,
and went off to different colleges. My sister began her high school journey, and with each passing year, we settled into a more confident security of Mom’s future health. Mom and Dad started planning for retirement, and even bought a home down at the beach so that they could start making the transition. Mom had a renewed spirit, and spent the next years active in her church, volunteering and having adventures (she even went parasailing!).

Around the time of my college graduation in December of ’99, Mom started to make comments about shoulder pains and not feeling 100%. She thought it was just the effects of turning 50 that month, and assured us that she would tell her doctors about it if it got worse. She continued to be active in her church and with various support groups, and even helped to organize fundraising events – all the while, her cancer was back…and we didn’t know yet.
(Mom and me at college graduation - December 1999)

One of the things that haunts me is that I vividly remember my mom saying when she was diagnosed in 1993 was that all she ever really wanted was to see her kids graduate from high school, that anything over that would be a bonus. My sister graduated from high school at the end of May of 2000, and within three weeks, on Father’s Day, my mother was so jaundiced that she had to be hospitalized. She never came home, and our family has never been the same.

Diane Jenkins Jersey passed away on July 11, 2000 from cancer that had metastasized basically everywhere: her liver, pancreas, brain, and bones. By the time she was hospitalized, it was too late to treat her any further, and we had to say goodbye to the best woman I have ever known.
Even 12 years later, I miss my mother with a fierceness that I never thought possible. I literally
feel like a part of me is missing. Especially now, as I am preparing to make the journey of motherhood myself, there are times each day that I reach for the phone to call her and ask her a question or share a fun update with her. Heaven may have gained an angel that day, but the world is worse off without her here.

Quite simply, through the money raised by Susan G. Komen for the Cure, more moms, sisters, daughters, friends, wives, co-workers, neighbors, and aunts will get to live to see another day. Every woman deserves that chance.

So, why do I support Komen? So that no other son or daughter has to lose their mother. So that no other husband has to watch his high school sweetheart slip away. So that no other sister has to say goodbye to her favorite sibling. So that no other friend has to be deprived of the companionship of an incredible woman. So that no other grandchild has to grow up hearing stories of how Grandma was when she was alive, but instead gets to know the loving embrace of her arms.
This year, I will not be able to walk or run in the actual Race for the Cure here in Birmingham, but I will be participating in fundraising. Please consider making a donation at:
Every dollar counts.

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