i was a junior in high school, and life was busy… i was junior class president. i was playing varsity tennis. i had a boyfriend, who had just swept me off my feet, & taken me to disneyland for the day. i had recently turned 16, gotten my drivers license & a car. my hair was finally growing out from an especially unattractive & short haircut. what can i say? life was nearly perfect. my biggest worries in life revolved around AP exams, term papers & deciding on the prom theme.
one evening that november, my parents called a family meeting. usually these meetings revolved around our then-flourishing tennis careers… determining tournament schedules, setting up practice matches, discussing “strategy”. however, this family discussion was much more serious than my brothers, sister & i could ever have been prepared for. words like cancer & chemotherapy were involved. tears were shed, people were angry, and lots of questions were asked. over the next several weeks, months & (luckily) years, we had several more family meetings. & unfortunately, those words that had brought so much sadness to our lives that fateful day, had quickly become part our daily vocabulary.
after many, many treatments, several surgeries & five and half years later, my father passed away after a long & hard battle with melanoma cancer. for my mother, however, her battle has continued on. over the last several years, she has organized an annual golf tournament, which has raised over $600,000 to support melanoma research at the john wayne cancer institute. my mom often says “i’ve always felt like they (jwci) kept him alive for five extra years. when he was diagnosed, they gave him six months to live. kerry, our daughter, was only four years old, so five extra years wan a lifetime to her. this is my way of giving back.”
last week, my mom was honored by the jwci’s auxiliary. they bestowed upon her their most prestigious honor, the “angel award”. congratulations mom! we’ve always known, but now the world knows as well… you definitely are an “angel among us.”