PREVIVOR: A person who is not diagnosed with cancer, but has survived the predisposition, or higher risk, of cancer due to a genetic mutation and/or strong family history. After being armed with this information, a previvor can make informed choices prior to a cancer diagnosis.

Monday, July 4, 2011


I know I mentioned it when my grandmother died in April, but since there was so much happening for me in such a short period of time, I feel like I didn't get to really touch on the subject. I stand by what I said before, that I'm glad that her suffering ended. It was truly hard to see her towards the end. And I also stand by the fact that I feel lost. I tried to visit her as much as possible, and when I couldn't we'd talk on the phone. She was great! I have yet to find another person who's face lights up when I come to visit them like her's did. I felt like I could talk to her about anything and she'd listen and not pass (much) judgment. It's definitely an adjustment now that she's gone. I have several of her things at my house, which make me feel a little better (her cross stitch pictures, a quilt she made, her jewelry armoire and some jewelry). I guess I just feel like I didn't really get the chance to mourn like a normal person..I had to get through the funeral without crying much (she made me promise not to cry when I gave the eulogy), and then I had finals, surgery, and recovery from surgery. I'm just now calming down from it all!

I'd mentioned before that I spoke at her funeral. The day that she died, I wrote out what I was going to say. Of course I didn't save a copy on the computer, so I wanted to type it out here so I'd have it saved somewhere. She basically told me she wanted people to know that she was a good person, and always smiling. And she wanted people to laugh. I also had a time limit imposed (by her). So, I think what I wrote met all of those criteria. If not, I'm sure one day when I get to heaven I'll hear about it :) Bear in mind, I ad libbed a couple of things but stuck to this general guideline. I just wanted everything down in case I got too nervous and ended up just reading it. Here it is:

"One day, visiting my grandmother, she began asking me what I thought about her funeral arrangements. I knew she was meeting with the pastor soon, and these things were weighing on her mind. She then took a deep breath and asked me if I would mind speaking at her funeral. She asked it so seriously, it actually rendered me speechless for a minute. When  I recovered from shock, I told her I'd be glad to. Then, knowing me as well as she did, she looked me in the eye and said, "Honestly Michelle try to keep it to under 3 minutes. I know how you like being the center of attention." So, I'll try my best not to dissapoint her.
When I try to think of a memory of my grandmother to share, so many run through my mind. Because I lived in the same hour as her for most of my life, there are not only the memorable moments, like holidays but the simple day to day things that only my grandmother could come up with. For instance, once at Christmas time, she was sitting on a large box, taking pictures and opening presents. When it came her turn to open her present from my grandfather, she realized it was a necklace. She looked up at him and said "Oh a silver necklace! How nice!" and he says "Actually, it's platinum" to which, she promptly screamed and fell off of the box.
I think I speak for all of the grandchildren, when I say that our fondest memory was of Granny's Camp. My grandmother had all of her grandchildren at her house for the week. a task I'm not sure she was up too..since there was only ONE week-long Granny's camp. That week she had to put up with such antics as me boldly proclaiming that the safest place to walk down the road was in between the yellow lines in the middle of the road, I can only imagine her surprise and horror when she looked out of the window and saw all of her precious grandchildren walking down the middle of the busiest street of the neighborhood. Although the week-long camp never happened again, that wasn't the last time that Granny bit off more than she could chew. I remember one August, she decided she was going to get up and cook breakfast for my sisters and I before we went off to school. That lasted all of 2 days, until she realized that kids go to school way before 12 noon, which was the time she normally got out of bed.
One memory I'll always have is my grandmother's fiery red hair. I always thought that God knew just what he was doing when he picked out her hair color because it matched her personality so well...until my mom told me that it was more Clairol and not God who gave Granny her red hair.
 Another thing that my cousins and I will always remember fondly, is her vocabulary. I honestly thought that words such as "Geehosaphat" and phrases like "I'll jerk a knot in your coperosity" were in the dictionary. That really got me some strange looks when I started repeating these phrases.
I could go on and on for a lot longer than 3 minutes talking about the different things my grandmother did. As eccentric as she was, Granny was always someone you could go to with anything. While she may tell you just how wrong you were in doing something, she always looked at you with an understanding smile and love in her eyes. Sometimes, she even offered advice. One time, while my sister was discussing her romantic troubles, Granny says "Get married and then fall in's the old fashioned way." She was very supportive of anything that we did and would listen to our stories for hours on end, with the rapt attention that one would give a good book or a suspenseful TV show. And no matter what, she was always ready with a smile. I can't think of a time that I saw her, that she didn't smile. We found a poem that she  wrote, called "The Value of a Smile" which  I think sums up her personality. In the poem she says "A smile costs nothing, but creates much. It enriches those who receive it, without impovershing those who give. It happens in a flash, and the memory of it sometimes lasts forever." On the morning that she died, right before I left the house, I came in to say my goodbyes. When I looked at her face, finally at peace, I could still see a hint of a smile. Even though there will be a big hole in all of our lives, now she's in heaven, singing with angels and smiling down on those she loves."
When I was a teenager, my grandmother and I didn't really get along. I don't know if it was because she lived in the same house as I did and I saw her more of a mother (and what teen gets along with their mother?) or because we were very much alike. I want to say I regret that HOWEVER I think that short period of not getting along helped me to appreciate her as I got older.

I'll always remember when she told me, "Sometimes you'll hurt, sometimes you'll be sick. Take your medicine, do what you do to have to get well and move on. Don't dwell on's not your whole life" Well something to that effect!

I know I've said it before, but my grandmother readily agreed that I should have my PBM. Having her blessing, made the decision easier. Even though she couldn't be with me on surgery day, I have a feeling she convinced God to let her watch..otherwise He would've gotten an earful :)

 We love and miss you Granny!

Me and Granny at my cousin Jenifer's wedding. This was during her last round of treatments for Inflammatory Breast Cancer. This was in October of last December she'd go into the hospital with pneumonia, and then her health never got any better. She died this past April 
My sisters and I with Granny on her birthday. She died a week later.

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