Our Awareness Day Story
Our last birthday together. Mom died 4 months later.
My mom, Joan Patricia, was born on Oct. 23, 1934 and born to eternal life 76 years later on Feb. 16, 2011. The dash between those dates was filled with work, exercise, volunteering, loving her grandchildren, her three girls and my dad, Bernie Provencher. Mom went to her eternal resting home from her Florida home due to loosing her battle against the rare blood cancer, multiple myeloma (MM).
Mom graduated from Lowell High in 1952, where she twirled the baton for the marching band. Mom had a difficult childhood. Her father left just after she was born. He came back a few years later long enough to have her brother, Bobby, and then he left again. The only thing mom ever mentioned about her dad was going on long bus rides a few times to visit him.
Growing up in the home Nana (my mom's mother) was born in with six aunts and uncles close to her age sounded interesting and at times very stressful. I don’t know much about her childhood because she didn’t talk about it except to share that she liked going to the beach, dances and was a good student. Mom met Dad at a dance, and they were still dancing on their 50th wedding anniversary.
I was born on Mom’s birthday, Oct. 23, 1966 at about 4 p.m. causing her to miss eating cake at her party, but from there forward we always enjoyed celebrating our birthday together. Mom liked doing crosswords and picture puzzles, eating ice cream, cooking and watching her soap opera. Mom was really happy when we went out to eat we'd often laugh so hard we cried.
I moved to Colorado in 1997, we missed each other so much we talked every week. In 2007, mom was having trouble remembering things and balancing her checkbook. Something wasn't right so I flew home to take her to the doctor. She fought me the whole way. To appease me the doctor did a few tests. A few hours later I was sliding down the wall in despair. My Mom had cancer.
Paul and I moved in with my parents for three months to care for them. Dad had to have a hernia operation and mom was loosing weight and real sick from the chemo. Then we had to get back to Colorado and leave the caregiving to my two sisters and the Grandkids.
We came back to help and visit as much as possible. We made a plan in October of 2011 to spend the winter in Florida with my best friend Jan who was fighting Huntington's Disease and my parents. I was compelled to go and able to spend much treasured time riding my bike between their homes.
It crossed my mind a few times as I watched Mom suffer that I could be watching my own death. MM is a rare blood cancer related to the rare blood disease that I have been fighting for 25+ years. Several members of our Cryo family have MM or one of their parents do/did. It was a painful time... Jan died two days after mom.
In honor of mom we chose Sept. 23 to be Cryoglobulinemia Awareness Day. We picked September as the awareness month because it’s one month before Mom’s birthday and before the cold weather comes to the USA that is so dangerous for cryoglobulinemics. Cryo Awareness Month is a remarkable “warm up” to October which is also a huge cancer awareness month.
This is a difficult and dangerous disease but we are better together. We celebrate the survivors and warriors all year, but especially in September and on the 23rd in an effort to increase understanding. We will continue to do all we can to increase awareness. May patients and those who love them invoke preventative measures to keep life and limb safe as possible.
I love and miss you Mom. xxoo