Saturday, June 10, 2006

we did it... we beat cancer

...well, not yet, actually. Tomorrow is the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure, and I'm doing it, along with my friend and intermittent work-out partner Wendy (sadly, she doesn't have a blog; she doesn't even have a cell phone), and a bunch of my favorite ladies. I've never done it before, but always wanted to--I'd always see it on the news later that day, after the race was over, and be like, "Ohhh I should've done that. I'm against cancer!" So I'm glad that Scout, and the Village Wools team, lit a fire under my ass this year. Here's why:

That's my grandmother. Her name was Lois, like Superman's girlfriend. She was a WAC in World War II. She was a secretary for some important general, whose name she was forbidden to disclose even years later when my mom was a curious kid, and who was involved with the Manhattan Project. She had a lot of important documents in her office, and because of that, she was required to keep a gun in her desk and do markmanship training, at a time when very few women were allowed to use guns. The Manhattan Project is where she met and married my grandfather, who was also in the army. Since they were stationed in Oak Ridge, and everything was all super-secret and they couldn't tell their families what they were doing, they had only their Army buddies there as witnesses, and as far we know, there were no wedding pictures. (We went to the museum at Oak Ridge when I was a teenager, hoping to find some trace of them, but we didn't.) Her sister Carole, my great-aunt, once told me that during the war, she and Uncle John had saved up enough gas ration to drive to Florida (from Iowa) on vacation, and she suggested to Grandma that they stop by for a visit. Since my grandmother couldn't tell her why she wasn't allowed to visit, she had to let Aunt Carole think it was personal. Aunt Carole said, "I didn't know why she was mad at me. I was so hurt. Then after the war, when we found out, I was so proud."

My grandmother was diagnosed with breast cancer in the 1970s, had a mastectomy, and thought she was done with it. But it came back. She never got her regular bloodwork done, like you're supposed to after you've had cancer, and by the time she felt sick enough to admit it and go see a doctor, it was too late.

My mom was there at the end, watching her carefully, because even at death's door my grandmother would never admit pain. If the nurses asked if she needed more morphine, she'd say she was fine. Mom and the nurses had to keep a close eye on her, to see the tension coming back into her body as the pain returned. Yeah, my grandmother was a tough old broad. I'm proud of her too. She died in September 1995. So tomorrow I'm running for her.

Dammit, now I'm all weepy.


Auntie Maim said...

You and your family are so awesome, I can hardly stand it. Now I'm all weepy too. We don't all get the chance to be heroes like your grandparents were, but we get to be heroes in little ways. Like Race for the Cure. Rock it, and tell Wendy I said, "Hi".

Scoutj said...


kate said...

i knew some of that stuff, but not all of it. i'm so proud of grandma f. and of you. :-)

Ramona said...

She sounds like she was an amazing woman! Did your number stay on straight while you walked?

beverly said...

Aww, I'm so proud of you. And what an amazing story.