Grace & Molly
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. 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 new 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):
The second worst day of my life was the day I came home to tell my baby sister, who was currently living with brain cancer, that I was just diagnosed with breast cancer. My identity as I knew it had warped with the swift kick of a phone call walking home from the L on a Monday. But I wasn't scared (annoyed? drastically) because I saw how Grace embraced the changes in her identity while still maintaining GRACE (literally and figuratively). I lost my hair, my eye lashes, finger nails, and apparently collagen under my eyes (shout out to my new saddle bags!). My time was now going to be spent in doctors offices instead of my day job or out with friends, paychecks were spent on deductibles and prescriptions instead of rent for my own apartment and J Crew's spring line. But all this stuff didn't bother me as I wasn't losing my identity as MOLLY. Following Grace's example of how to still be me while my entire life had changed. No, I am not the same person as I was, the same way Grace wasn't the same Grace as she once was. But I was, and am, still Molly because of what is in my heart. I guess that is why my personal mantra is "full of Grace."
Full of Grace,
When I was younger, all I wanted to do was grow up. I wanted to be a teenager, and when I was a teenager I wanted to be an adult. I was the classic little girl who wanted a purse and had their parents old cell phone that didn’t work and would make pretend phone calls. I always wanted to be someone that I had to wait to be. Now looking back, it’s like “what on EARTH was I thinking?” Things were so much simpler when I was a kid and I think most adults can attest to that. I wouldn’t necessarily call that “identity issues”, but none the less it relates to your identity.
Now after all this crap has happened and I’m struggling with all the changes in my life, I often find myself wondering where I am at in life and who I am. There are a few things for sure. I am Grace. I am 23 years old. I am funny as hell. And I have cancer. But with the things that have changed, such as my whole life, I can’t help but wonder how that all changes who Grace is. I once read a quote on the wall of a doctors office about having cancer and it went something like “Cancer cannot take away or change my personality, my love, my attitude, my beliefs, my this, my that… yadda yadda yadda.” And for awhile that quote rang in my head and I was like, “hell ya.. cancer ain’t got nothing on me!” But now that I have been dealing with this longer and have undergone ups and downs and the ins and outs of life with cancer, that quotes truthfulness started to change. Cancer can change and take away things if you let it. It can completely take you over and send you into a very dark place if you give up and let it. But as much as I tried not to let cancer change me, it definitely did… and not necessarily in a negative way. I have grown immensely since I was diagnosed. I have such an appreciation for the little things, like small moments that just pass you by, or seeing small gestures of kindness and appreciating the true goodness of this world. I know that sounds corny, but it’s true. I really have grown for the better with this awful disease.
I am not going to say cancer has changed my beliefs but it has called a bit more attention to them. I’ve grown up Catholic and still am. I would go to Mass every Sunday with my family, and still try and go when I can. I pray to God all the time. Not always traditionally with the prayers you had to memorize in grade school, but just talking to Him like an old friend. But with my faith, I won’t lie and say I’ve always been on good terms. Since cancer came into my life there have been times when I’m just like, “What the hell, God? Why ME?! Why did I have to get this awful, terminal disease that doesn’t have a cure? Give me the flu more often if you want, but why cancer? And why now…?” So cancer has messed around with my belief, but it has not taken it away. I truly believe that God doesn’t give us anything we cannot handle.
With all things said, I come back to the question of how cancer has changed me. Sure there are days when I hole up in my room and throw the worlds biggest pity party and if you come near me I snap at you. But that doesn’t mean 20-30 minutes later I won’t be laughing at an episode of Seinfeld. I am still Grace. But am I a student who couldn’t finish college? Am I a 23 year old who lives at home without a job? Does that make me a failure? I dread when people ask me what I’ve “been up to?” It’s not like I can say “uhh, jack SHIT” although that’s what I would like to say. “Hi, how are you? Oh, I’m fine. Just battling cancer, haven’t finished school and.. what’s that? Where am I living? This cute little bungalow that I haven’t left in 22 ½ years.” I do feel embarrassed because I don’t feel accomplished. My team of doctors remind me how cancer is a full time job, and I agree… but where’s the income? Honestly, people should get paid for having cancer. It’s the worst job out there. But I digress. This battle I have with myself over my identity is probably going to be everlasting. I just have to keep taking my days one at a time, and see where this winding road takes me. The person I am today is a fighter and will be until the fight is over. I won’t back down. I guess I’ll never have my identity pinned down because I am forever changing like the rest of the world. And in this game of life, I was just given a shorter stick than most.
I am Grace. I am 23 years old. I am funny as hell. And I have cancer. But, I will not let my struggle become my identity.
The last sentence you read, that was Grace. She was funny as hell while facing a terminal condition. I would love to hear a comment from you. 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