Gerri first got tested for the brca mutation a few years ago recommended by her primary care physician because of already having breast cancer and the numerous cases of cancer that were on her Mother's side of the family. She said she was doing it not only for herself but for her children, always stressing that knowledge is power. When she received her positive results for the mutation she handled it with strength and grace and simply asked, "What's next?" Soon after her results, she had her fallopian tubes and ovaries removed. At the time of surgery there seemed to be no traces of cancer but after a more extensive pathology test, microscopic cancer cells were found in her fallopian tubes. She had one more surgery to have her uterus removed and then started her chemotherapy treatments and drug trials. She went into remission and continued to fight for 3 years.
We all had a heartfelt Christmas together, cherishing each moment but still not knowing that we had such a little amount of time left with her. Up until then she was going into Boston for her treatment. What brought her into the hospital were the tumors in her intestines that were blocking her colon. The pain was just too much to bare. When the doctor took one look at the MRI pictures, she couldn't believe that this lovely lady in the hospital bed matched the pictures of her insides that were loaded with cancer. She had surgery where they gave her a colostomy bag and feeding tube if necessary. She did well but soon after developed pneumonia. She fought off the pneumonia and got out of ICU but it was too much on her body. Although her heart was still strong, her body could not take it anymore. It was time for her to leave her "earth suit" as she called, behind. I was fortunate enough to have time with her in the hospital, to be in a place of pure love and care. My heart was sad for the loss but incredibly full of love at her time of passing.
Gerri's mental strength and zeal for life inspired me. She kept living her life fully even if it meant she had to nap before and after each endeavor. She impacted so many lives over the years. I still get comments about how Gerri gave them a piece of advise 20+ years ago that they still live by today. Her intuitiveness and kind and loving heart helped so many people. In her final weeks in the hospital she was still making jokes and loving fully. The nurses would comment on her spirit and beautiful skin which she in turn thanked them with her bright smile.
My whole purpose in writing this blog today is to honor my courageous mother although I still feel like I have fallen short. This isn't a sad story about someone losing a battle to cancer, it's a story about a woman who trumpeted and lived life. She was brave and got tested for the brca gene that in turn gave me and my siblings and her sister the strength and knowledge to do the same. My mom suffered from a cancer that could have most likely been avoided. I will not have to suffer like she did and for that and for her years of unconditional love, support and inspiration, I will be forever grateful. I love you Mom and I will always miss you.