A note from Mary Koludrovic, Time Snap Shop Owner:
If you are new to this blog, "Stories for Grace" is a series of blog posts written by a young woman who passed away from brain cancer, Grace Oliver-Daday. I had the privilege of being her oncology social worker and working with her family. I'm sharing her blog posts on our blog, in support of our mission. A portion of Time Snap Shop proceeds will benefit Grace Giving, a charity started in her honor that supports Brain Cancer Research and Programs. Each post is introduced by her older sister, Molly. Thanks for reading.
Words from Molly (Grace's Sister):
Someone once told me: Worrying is like a rocking chair.. it gives you something to do, but it gets you nowhere. But being human, it's in our nature. Some people worry more than others (hi mom!) but we all do it. Its about how you handle your worry. I knew Grace was constantly worried, but she kept living her life as she wanted to the best of her ability. When I was going through my own treatment, I have never been more content in my day to day, as I knew that worrying was not going to heal me, or make me sicker for that matter. I guess its because I saw how Grace didn't let her worry get the best of her, she didn't let it consume her, even with that constant threat hanging over her head (literally). One of my favorite quotes of all time is by the famous Lena Horne "It's not the load that breaks you down. It's the way you carry it." So I carry mine with grace. Maybe I'm pulling the whole fake-it-til-you-make-it routine, but that is sure as hell better than losing my mind, standing on a street corner in the rain with a cardboard sign saying "THE END IS NEAR!" So.... how are you going to carry on?
Full of Grace,
Molly (Grace's Sister)
"That’s the thing about pain,” Augustus said, and then glanced back at me. “It demands to be felt.” - The Fault in our Stars by John Green
I know that this book is really "hot” right now and a ton of people are reading it. I saw the commercial for the movie and went out and bought the book that night. I started to read it with a high lighter so I could high light all the sentences that I could relate to. I high lighted a fair amount, but not as much as I thought I would. Yes, the two main characters have cancer, but it’s ultimately about love and missing out on the future. So it kind of made me mad. I don’t know, whatever. It’s a decent book if you want a cry. I have been reading a lot and most of the books I seek out are about things I can relate to. So, in this blog I’m going to toss in a couple quotes because I can relate to them and because this is my blog and I can do what I want. I haven’t written in here for awhile because it has been hard for me to articulate how I’m feeling. I’ll give it a shot today.
I’ll start with what’s been going on in my life. Time is really jumbled in my life so my dates are not exactly correct, but I want to say that in late April/early May I was having miserable head aches and pretty severe arm seizures that would leave my hand completely useless, kind of like jello. I was then scheduled for an immediate MRI and the results weren’t what we hoped for. The damn tumor was growing. I am on a study where I get one drug, Avastin, and then either a placebo or another drug. Since my tumor was growing, we could “unveil” what I was getting. You guessed it, I was sitting there for an extra half hour getting fluids pumped into my body every Thursday and not a drug that could potentially help me. I was crushed thinking about all the time that wasted. I wallowed, but it was time to start my new treatment. Since then, my head aches have subsided but my arm seizures have not. (I had a really bad one at a Blackhawks playoff game against the Blues because I was so overstimulated. We won in OT… =]) I am feeling pretty good other than being tired most of the time, but I’ll take it. I do get a lot of tingling and mini spasms on my left side, but they’re manageable. So, thats my medical catch up.
Since the warm weather has been teasing us here in Chicago, my mood… along with probably every other person, has gone from winter depression to summer delight. I have been enjoying my time as best as I can. It’s crazy how little I used to pay attention to what happens around me. I really do appreciate things more. But with all that, there’s still this cloud thats following me around. I wish I didn’t but I find myself thinking, “what if this is the last time?” I’ll be honest, when the Blackhawks lost in the playoffs I teared up because I thought it might be my last time seeing them play (I’m pretty Hawks obsessed). I really wanted to get out of dodge for a bit on Memorial Day, so my boyfriend and I took his dog to his family’s condo in South Bend, IN (biiiiig ND family). We took his dog to the beach and because walking is difficult for me, walking on sand is even more so, which resulted in me sitting and watching from a distance. I watched Mike as he tried to get Sully (the dog) in the lake and behind my sunglasses so no one on the beach could see, I cried thinking how great it was and how genuinely happy I felt and of course, “what if this is my last time here with them?”.
My mother tells me not to think like that and just to appreciate the good times, and as some country singer wrote, “Bad times make the good times better.”, I try to live by those words. But that cloud won’t leave me alone. I worry. I think about the future CONSTANTLY. There is nothing I can do about it.
“Nothing to be gained by worrying between now and then. And yet I still worried. I liked being a person. I wanted to keep at it.” You nailed it John Green. Being a person is absolutely wonderful. I’m not ready to give that up so I fight for my life. But I wonder, how can I fight this disease? There is literally nothing I can do about it besides follow what my doctors tell me like keeping a good diet yadda yadda, and keeping a good attitude. There is literally nothing I can do against this beast taking over my brain. I am it’s puppet. I have zero control against what happens. I “fight” by sitting back and letting this cancer run its course. I keep my attitude up because I do love life and i’m not ready to give up, but I also do it so I don’t bring down my loved ones. How awful would it be if I just holed up and blew everyone off because I’m drowning in my own self pity. I have to keep going. John Green did nail another point. “You tell yourself that if they see you cry, it will hurt them, and you will be nothing but A Sadness in their lives, and you must not become a mere sadness, so you will not cry, and you say this to yourself while looking up at the ceiling, and then you swallow even though your throat does not want to close and you look at the person who loves you and smile.”
Every night as I’m trying to fall asleep I pray, beg, wish, beg again, and keep begging to God to kick this cancer out and let me keep living. I am wishing for that sunny day without a cloud in sight.
One more John Green quote to wrap those up. To all those very close to me: “I’ll find a way to hang around and annoy you for a long time.”
So much wisdom. We all get to be "a person." We still "get" to make the most of our days. If you would like to receive these blog posts directly to your inbox, please sign up for our newsletter here.
Full of Grace,
Mary Koludrovic, Time Snap Shop Owner