Stories of Cancer

March 21, 2012

We can’t thank you enough, for your outpouring of love, support, encouragement, and all of the sharing you helped us do yesterday. Together we raised $5,000 for Teens Living With Cancer and Livestrong. Remember 2 weeks ago….. I had hoped to raise $1,000. We are certainly on our way and we appreciate your support more than you will ever know.

Click here for Duel in the Pool details. Please remember the actual race is an invitation only event for the Teens Living With Cancer…..  so come to the speech to see the whole things go down, and listen to a really great man speak!!!!.

Today I would also like to thank the one and only Kristen Mayer of Betty designs and Splish for their brilliant collaboration for my suit for the Duel in the Pool. I went to Kristen immediately….. she’s the one who designs the best stuff. She generously and graciously donated her time and her talent to create this gorgeous suit for me.


In my opinion, when you go to someone like Kristin who is such an incredible designer and artist….. you allow them the creative control. I had a really simple request….. let your work shine. How can I go to someone of this caliber with a demand…. she’s the artist. I am thrilled with it. I will be sporting it at Texas 70.3 and throughout the season. Thanks as well to Splish for the creation of the actual suit. Your suits are hands down the best quality, best value, and longest lasting.

Over the next 6 weeks I would like to do some sharing. I want to share YOUR stories of cancer. If you are a teen, were a teen with cancer, the parent of a teen, or can relate to someone who has gone through this….. leave me a comment. In the comments section you have to input your email but it is not published. You can also get in touch through FaceBook and Twitter (@Maryeggers is the twitter follow). I will get in touch and send you some questions, and we will feature your story right here.

There are so many of us who have been ripped apart by cancer yet at the same time inspired beyond words by it. WHat we do with our grief can be amazing, what it’s led us to reach for, aim for and become in the years after.

I have a lot of stories of cancer for various reasons. My work as a pediatric nurse brought me close to many children and families, and brought me through life changing experiences.

One young man will remain with me for as long as I live. He was at the end of his young life, and  comatosed when he came into my care. It had been a long long battle in his decade plus life. His mother never left his side. He had a pretty big family actually and it was amazing how they turned his hospital room into a literal family room. I loved walking in there, it didn’t feel like a hospital any more.

They knew the end of his life was here and had a difficult time ….. as we all would…. in officially making him a DNR when the time came. The oncology team came up with a beautiful solution, we would administer oxygen and help him breathe as he passed, we’d keep him comfortable and we’d keep the passing quiet, private and non medical. I was ready all day because that day would be the day.

The only thing we were monitoring was his oxygen level, and when I was standing at his bedside it began to slowly drop. His breathing dramatically slowed down. I pulled out the ambu bag and slowly began to administer breaths as his mother had requested. My colleague stood across from me and the family gathered around the bed.

As his oxygen levels fell,  his Aunt began to sing… Jesus Loves You. Her voice began softly and as his oxygen levels fell, she became louder, and at some point it was as if they crossed paths. Hi mother stood next to me and my own tears ran down my face and fell onto him. I couldn’t help it. It was horrible and beautiful at the same time.

After about 2 minutes, his mother wrapped her arms around me and placed her hand on my hands which were giving him breaths. I felt her strength. She told me I could stop now and it was the hardest thing I have ever had to do. I gave one more breath….. as if …. maybe this would be the breath that would bring him back. We never give up hope do we. Never.

She stood there holding me….. and I knew that was what she needed to do in her role as mother….. and we all cried. The singing continued and I don’t even remember when it stopped.

It was the most beautiful passing I had ever been a part of. I was so honored.

A few years later I saw his Aunt again. As soon as we looked at one another we remembered who the other was. We embraced immediately and I told her how her voice that day was one of the most beautiful things I had ever experienced. She smiled. He was so missed still, and had left a hole in her heart that only singing would be able to temporarily fill. She had gone on to do similar things for other families in the same situation. Another woman turned grief into amazing.

As much as I have seen it, felt it, experienced it…… I can’t imagine what it’s like to be in her shoes, or his mother’s shoes. You aren’t supposed to outlive your child. They are not supposed to die young and they are not supposed to die of Cancer.

And I am so tired of it. I am tired of this disease. I am tired of it ripping my life apart and I am tired of it ripping your life apart. This is why we must do what we are doing. It can take our loved ones, it can take us….. but it can’t steal our passion for defeating it. Defeat it we will.

If you are comfortable, please send me a note and I will be in touch. How has cancer touched your life? What was the experience? How have you dealt with the victory or the defeat? Let’s share our stories together.





  1. Any chance Betty designs will be selling the suit?

  2. Mary: awesome job to you, the kids and all others who are behind the scenes making this upcoming event a reality.
    A reminder to everyone, including myself, that it all starts with a Vision and maybe a touch of Audacity and the Will to make things happen!
    My question to you:will the speech and the swim be available on line via “You Tube” to view.
    Thanks for all you do!!!!!!!!

  3. From my work at LIfe with Cancer, a few stand out:

    A (girl)- who had the inquiring eyes and questioned everything internally until I whispered to her the ins/outs of what I was doing, why, and other little details. A very, very strong mind and will on that young lady (11ish yrs)

    A (boy)- who I worked with immediately after A (girl). He was so calm and mellow. Despite radiation burns on his leg, he was the epitome of cool.

    Burka Mom and Daughter (I know, maybe not politically correct, but that’s how I remember them)- They chatted with A (boy)’s Mom about the upcoming Christmas party at the hospital, days/weeks of treatment, etc.

    I’ll forever remember Burka daughter’s fleece pink and grey star pants. I so wanted a pair, as they looked beyond comfy! 🙂

    Then there was T- one of the last patients I worked with. She asked me at the end if I thought she should get a hat. When I asked her why, she told me her head was cold.

    Well, T wasn’t the only one cold. That day I had 3 shirts on including a fleece hoodie and Smartwool socks, because our room was freezing. I showed her as much, and she laughed.

    T was a trip in all ways.

    With my volunteer work, we never really got the specs, nor follow ups. We were there for brief periods of time. What I learned, saw, felt, etc. blessed me in more ways than one.

    Shameless plug to any/all reading… Life with Cancer in Northern Virginia is free for anyone being treated or their family members- except massages. They are some of the most wonderful folks around. End shamless plug. 🙂

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: