I could never have known on this day what I know today. This image was taken on May 30, 2014. Mary Anne, Christa and I were headed to Long Island. We had raised money for the Leukemia/Lymphoma Society and Team in Training. I had finished my Leukemia treatment in February and was stubborn enough to believe I could ride my bicycle the 74 miles from beginning to end. There was also a big contingency of peeps from the Albany area that was pushing with the “Yes, You Can” undertone. Mary Anne and Christa had been huge supporters through all my random adventures and continued to tell me that I could do things that I wasn’t totally sure I could.
What we didn’t know was that within months Mary Anne would be diagnosed with ovarian cancer. What we didn’t know was that she would spend a year and half on different types of chemo trying to fight this disease. We didn’t know that she would be part of a clinical trial at Sloane Kettering. Mary Anne’s stamina and determination and persistence were unwavering. The first trial didn’t work. There were conversations about tumors growing.
In November we all went to the local Holiday Tractor Parade. We watched sixty five tractors full of thousands of lights pass down the quaint Main Street of Greenwich. The smell of fried dough filled the air. Mary Anne waited in the long, long line for her fill of fried food with sugar on top. Christmas music played in the air as a light dusting of snow fell on the village. It was just another day and another parade and another holiday season but being in the presence of Mary Anne and Christa reminded me of the fragility of it all.
A few days later I popped in at Mary Anne’s house. We sat and chatted and ate celery with peanut butter covered in raisins. She was losing weight and looked tired.
“I need to tell you something,” Mary Anne said.
“Sure. Go for it,” was my reaction.
“I’ve been having un-kind thoughts and want to talk to you about them.”
“OK. What’s going on?” My stomach dropped a little bit.
“When we were at the tractor parade and we were walking back to your house, I was thinking about some things. I wondered why it was that you had cancer twice and now you are okay and why I’ve been going through this for a year and a half and it’s still going on.”
Tears welled up in my eyes. She was saying exactly what I had been thinking over and over again. Her honesty and courage to have this conversation gave me permission to do the same.
“I don’t know Mary Anne. I just don’t know.” I sobbed and heaved and cried and blabbered “I’m SO ANGRY.”
We sat at the table together and cried.
We didn’t say anything .
She handed me the tissues.
We allowed each other space to regroup.
“I don’t believe that God picks who lives and who doesn’t,” I sniffled. “I just don’t believe it. I don’t know why I am okay and you are still going through this. I’m so sad.”
“I’m sad too.”
The conversation could not have lasted more than four minutes but it was profound and moving and one of the most honest interactions I have ever had. We ate more celery and peanut butter and raisins.
Not long after this interaction Mary Anne was offered a second clinical trial at Sloane Kettering. Her doctor’s dedication was unwavering. She wanted to try another drug to help with the weight loss and change the direction of the disease. And that’s exactly what it did.
Mary Anne tried the new drug.
The tumors stopped spreading.
She stopped losing weight.
During our last conversation I learned that the tumors have shrunk. She was headed to the gym for a little work out.
THIS is why I agreed to be part of Cycle for Survival. I believe that Mary Anne is still alive because of the research and the clinical trials that happen at Sloane. Any donation you make goes towards this research. We never know who will need this next.