Big Sis In Burgundy: Lordy, Lordy, Deana’s 40!
Published: May 8, 2012 1:02 pm
Deana celebrated the big 4-oh on May 5 in a manner favored by our family – on a cruise ship. I celebrated by spending the day with Darrie, in what is becoming a tradition for us three sisters – Pittsburgh Marathon Weekend.
As we were facing our demon, multiple myeloma, last year at this time, I began suggesting a grand plan for Deana’s 40th birthday – a party at the restaurant Deana has chosen for my pre-race carbo load, family and friend participation in the Saturday 5K race, and the marathon/half-marathon on Sunday. This was at a time when I still held on to the belief that Deana might consider giving running another try.
(For those concerned about Darrie being left out, fret not – Darrie ran the Inaugural Disney Princess Half Marathon with me in 2009. She said, “Never again,” and has assumed the role of pit crew chief, whereby she meets me at points along the course to cheer me on and to see if I need anything. She’s a good sport – and tremendous support to me. As a bonus, we have had some grand adventures along the way, in cities she has wanted to visit.)
But back to Deana… Apparently, Deana did not share my idea of a fun birthday weekend, even though I proposed going on a cruise following the race. So, I gave in to Deana’s desire to be in control of her own destiny.
My sisters are with me in spirit wherever I go, and on race day, though Deana was not with me in body, I was pleased to be a part of a group that continues to mean a great deal to her. I was with the team from Gilda’s Club of Western Pennsylvania, a place where Deana has found community as she is on her journey with multiple myeloma. She has attended numerous programs offered at the Club and has become particularly fond of a guided relaxation class. Her multiple myeloma support group meets there as well – I am staying in Pittsburgh to serve as the guest speaker for today’s meeting.
As you can probably tell, my family acknowledges and puts importance on birthdays and anniversaries. Many myeloma survivors and their families have shared that there are myeloma-related dates one does not forget – the date of diagnosis, the new “birthday” (date of transplant), and the day remission was proclaimed. We just had our first anniversary of diagnosis, a date we can never forget, as it is also Gregory’s birthday; Gregory is Deana’s youngest.
Gregory turned 3 on April 27, and I had the pleasure of calling to wish him a happy birthday while on a business trip toTaiwan. Deana was astonished when she answered the phone. I told her that there probably wouldn’t be many times I would be in a position to call from such an exotic destination. Truth be told, I was more interested in talking to her, in hearing her voice on that day.
I will never forget April 27, 2011, and the myriad feelings – fear, resolve, a touch of anger, frustration – but overwhelmingly, fierce love for my sister and absolute determination that we would not be beaten by multiple myeloma.
I am filled with thanksgiving that one year later, her voice was clear and happy. She had planned an over-the-top birthday for Gregory, filled with balloons and most importantly, a new tractor. The following day, she departed on a cruise for her significant birthday.
Life is good.
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