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):
Grace was always so grateful for everyone around her: family, friends, friends of family and families of friends, and even people who she didn't know. I know that she felt like a complete burden to everyone around her, but in actuality, she brought people closer together. She inspired people, brought out the best in them, I mean, people ran MARATHONS in her honor. In our jaded world today, I am always brought back to the opening quote from Love Actually, "General opinion's starting to make out that we live in a world of hatred and greed, but I don't see that. It seems to me that love is everywhere. Often, it's not particularly dignified or newsworthy, but it's always there - fathers and sons, mothers and daughters, husbands and wives, boyfriends, girlfriends, old friends. When the planes hit the Twin Towers, as far as I know, none of the phone calls from the people on board were messages of hate or revenge - they were all messages of love." It always fascinates me how incredible humans can be. To stand up for utilitarian causes, to unite together during catastrophes, and help pick up the pieces others can not do physically or emotionally. From the Womens' Marches to Puerto Rico Hurricane relief funds, to teenagers who aren't even old enough to vote who stand up to our country's decision and policy makers and fight for what's right (well... at least what I think is right. GUNS ARE BAD!) I'm constantly inspired and reassured by humanity. When the world seems to do nothing but knock you down, remember there are people around to help you back up.. time and time again. Not because that what has to be done, but because they want to. Don't ever think you are a burden. Just remember to say "thank you" - those two little words can mean the world to someone who means the world to you.
Full of Grace,
Molly (Grace's Sister)
September 18th, 2014
I usually start my blogs out with a quote, but I don’t have one today. In fact this post won’t be like my usual ones. I just want to fill everyone in on my “status”.
I finished radiation and now I am on IV chemo every other week and taking oral chemo. I went through hair loss again and I think the second time around is harder. I was talking/weeping to my social worker about the clumps falling out and asked her if I was like this last time and she said, “You really don’t remember? You were in the same shape.” I must have blocked it out of my life because it was so traumatic. So now I’m rocking the half bald look, this time there’s a little island of hair on top so that’s an interesting look. My left arm is getting weaker and weaker no matter how often I lift my 3lbs weights. My energy is slowing down but I’m attributing that to my medication… not to my life coming to an end. Other than that, I’m still me. I haven’t written for awhile because I’ve been out there getting after life. I’m non-stop. I’ve been out of town a lot, going to weddings, Notre Dame games, visiting people, and next Wednesday I’ll be off to Germany to watch my boyfriend run the Berlin marathon and celebrate at Oktoberfest in Munich. So I’m not slowing down. Cancer hasn’t defeated me yet.
There is good news pertaining to my completion of radiation. I had an MRI after I finished and I went into it with a pessimistic attitude because I thought my doctor wouldn’t be able to tell us anything about my tumor because it would still be swollen from radiation, but low and behold.. there were dead spots!! The radiation got some shit! But I’m not out of the water yet, I still have to continue with my chemotherapy.
Having that little bit of good news and being able to celebrate with my family and friends, who got me a cake that said “F*** Cancer” (shout out to Lauren and Mary Kate) was so refreshing. It lifted the cancer weight a bit and let me be worry free with my busy schedule.
I will try and do more blogs but I can’t promise I’ll be good about it because I’m excellent at procrastination. Thank you all who have supported myself and my family through all this, be it with prayers, money, etc. I never knew I had so many amazing people in my life who care so much. Thank you so much, I really mean that from the bottom of my heart. <3
It's timely that Grace called this post "coming up for air." I haven't published one of her blog posts since January 27th, 2018 and I think I too am "coming up for air" in a different way. We welcomed our third child on February 1st, 2018, we moved June 1st, 2018 onto a street named GRACE AVENUE (story for another time) and my mom's health significantly declined over the year. My mom also entered hospice over Labor Day weekend 2018. I've felt a bit paralyzed when it's come to certain things in my life - caring for my young children and enjoying watching my family grow as I watch a parent become immobile and face death is like living in two very different worlds. But, I'm reminded from Grace and others that you can fall, but you have to pick yourself up. Giving yourself "Grace" along the way to do what you need to do each day. When grieving, I would always tell my patients there is no right or wrong way to grieve -- So, here I am.
I've said this before, but I'm gonna channel Grace through this season of life as best I can because (at the end of the day) even the things that challenge us - I still get to live my life right now and so many like Grace don't even get that chance.
Death is a part of life but sometimes when it's so close to us -- it really teaches us what's important and what is not important. Grace was going and doing things IN Germany - even as she was declining and facing a terminal illness. If she can do all that, I'm certain I can do today, tomorrow and the next day -- and so can you.
Some days are easier than others and some days are hard - both are ok and I know this. Even though you haven't heard from me as of late - Time Snap Shop is still very up and running. If you didn't know, Time Snap was inspired by a calendar in my mother's kitchen. I love that she and Grace are a part of this business. No matter what, I'll always have that legacy and memory. I'd love to hear from you! Drop a comment and 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
Miss her previous blog post? Catch up by reading her fourth blog post here.