Hello! It’s me ThreeOlives (aka your host) I hope you don’t mind Joe has been stealing the keyboard.
I got tired of blogging because I got tired of thinking. Eeekkk…. it sounds like why I barely passed Algebra.
Cancer, hospitals, chemo, death….. it can weigh on you and honestly people get tired of hearing about it.
“How are you? How’s your husband? How’s his dad?” they ask.
“Fighting every day.” “Great, just staying on top of it.”
“Another scan in 3 weeks but doing great, he has a great attitude,” I answer.
It doesn’t necessarily make elevator conversation, if you know what I mean.
But I have been lucky enough to find a few confidants and we can bond over the ‘awful’ of cancer.
I would have never wished any of this on my best friend but I sure am glad I have her.
Erin and I met in 8th grade and I remember running home to my journal to write about the girl with the curly hair who would be my best friend and we would date varsity football players and be homecoming queens.
None of that happened, instead we sang duets, put on each others false eye lashes and left our homes for the biggest adventure to be college roommates.
Erin is the ultimate friend, the kind you see and look in her eyes and you just feel home. I can eat what I want around her and she doesn’t judge that I can’t fit in my jeans. She is just there in the most beautiful way and is a beautiful girl. I mean look at her!!
I laugh and feel like who I truly am. She gets me.
Cancer touched Erin’s life and took the most wonderful man from all of us. Erin’s dad was that kindred spirit and supportive man every woman wishes for. He’s loving, kind and never missed one of his kid’s performaces (and those kids had A LOT of shows!)
He always made me feel like I was a part of the family. See… here I am. 🙂
I’ve been begging Erin to blog, get her emotions out and finally she did. Thank you Erin for your strength, your friendship and sharing your story.
“Cancer is a scary word, no doubt about it. However, in my family we have a cancer miracle – my Mamaw.
I was young when mamaw was first diagnosed with cancer. As a third grader, I knew mamaw was sick but I don’t think I fully grasped the disease or what was actually going on. I remember my mom crying to my dad but not knowing exactly why. I remember mamaw not looking the same. She lost her hair and didn’t have as much energy as before. Mamaw went through a lot with her cancer. Again, I was much younger so I don’t know all the details but I do know that she had it once and then it came back. The second time, she traveled to NYC to have a tumor removed. Dr. Oz (yep, the one on TV) was one of her surgeons. My mom and twin aunts say he was nice and super good looking in person!
I’m happy to say that mamaw is very much alive today and has all of her energy back if not more! She is truly an amazing person and probably the best mamaw on the planet.
Unfortunately my second meeting with cancer doesn’t end as happy. My dad died from duodenal cancer on August 8, 2012.
My dad was an Emergency Room Physician. He loved his job and was good at it. He was such a calm and soft spoken man. I always imagined a patient being brought into the ER from the ambulance with bones sticking out of their body and worried family members surrounding the patient and my dad would be able to calm the family, assess the situation and treat the patient with ease and a gentle hand. My family and I heard so many stories from my dad’s coworkers at his showing. Each person told us how much they loved seeing dad’s name on the schedule for the day. They knew it was going to be a good day when Dr. Madden was there. Dad struggled with the fact that he had cancer. He was a doctor and I think he was upset that he didn’t diagnose his cancer sooner.
I found out my dad had cancer on July 26, 2011. It was a huge shock. He was the last person I would ever think would get cancer. If you knew my dad you knew he was a very healthy person. Dad didn’t smoke, had a beer occasionally, worked out and ate healthy (although he did have a tendency to eat leftovers that were in the fridge for about a week… Ha). Beyond the fact that he was physically healthy, he was also spiritually healthy. My father was a devout Catholic and loved his faith. He was truly a man of God. He served God everyday by taking care of his family and healing the sick at work. He could do no wrong! How does this man get diagnosed with cancer? It is something I still struggle with…
Throughout the entire year, I think we all tried to stay positive and have faith that our family would witness another cancer miracle. Surely my dad’s otherwise healthy body and strong faith would be able to beat off this nasty disease.
Dad did as much as he could during the last year of his life. I was always happy to call home and not have anyone answer and then call my mom’s cell phone and find that they were out at a Colts game or out to dinner with Jackie and Joe. Cancer is awful and makes you weak and sick but I didn’t want that for my dad. I wanted him to keep living and having fun.
To throw another loop in my family’s year, my mom was also diagnosed with cancer about 6 months after dad. She had surgery for uterine cancer in February. Thankfully the doctors said it was caught early and she didn’t need radiation or chemotherapy.
Chemo was very hard on my dad but I don’t ever remember him complaining about his side effects. He would comment about how he felt weak or his stomach was bothering him but he never complained. He wanted to be on the treatment because he wanted so badly to get better. He stayed so strong until about six weeks before he died. The cancer was too aggressive.
Dad entered the hospital on a Wednesday and died one week later. Many family and friends were able to be with him during the week at IU Simon. I hope he felt the love that radiated in the room. Nurses would often come in to check on dad and say, “I know you probably don’t need anything since you take such good care of Dr. Madden but I have to do rounds and double check.” My family literally took over room A2 and the entire lobby area outside of the room. People were making beds out of chairs or sleeping on the floor. No one wanted to leave my dad. I don’t think there was ever less than 10 people there at one time and we probably had over 30 people there on Friday night. Friday night was special. We all told stories about dad – his siblings, mom, cousins, friends – everyone had a story to tell. There was so much laughter in the room and also a lot of tears.
Saturday was the last day that dad actually spoke. He was taking care of others and thinking of others until his last word. He wanted to make sure my mom was taken care of financially. His actual words were, “Terri is a young woman! She will need money.” He asked Papaw (my mom’s dad) to make sure the house had new locks and that our cars would get regular check-ups. He wanted everyone to make sure Lauren and I picked good men to marry and hoped Austin would find a nice girl. He always put others first.
To me he was dad but he had many other names – Dr. Tom, Thomas, Tom, Dr. Madden and probably Tommy as a child. Many people have said that he was probably the best person they ever knew. I’m thankful that I was able to call him my father.
I think we all had time to tell dad we were thankful for him but I would like to thank him here also. (And this is only a little dip into what we all have to be thankful for from Dr. Tom Madden) Thank you for the AMAZING family vacations.
We all thought you were crazy for wanting to go to a Dude Ranch in Colorado but it ended up being the best family vacation ever! Thank you for always smiling in the audience for every show choir performance, play, musical, dance recital, football game, basketball game, softball game (yes Lauren and I did attempt to play sports too…) Thank you for being so supportive. Thank you for working so hard so we could go to private schools and have nice things. Thank you for making great dinners on the grill so we could sit outside at our own private family restaurant called The Back Yard. Thank you for being our own private doctor. Thank you for being so smart at seriously everything! Dad always had the best Science Fair Project ideas. Thank you for giving us your pretty blue eyes. Thank you for marrying mom and giving me the best family possible. Thank you for loving us so much.
My aunt said something to me right after my dad passed and it stuck with me. She said “Don’t even think about putting “Tom lost his battle to cancer” in the obituary. Tom didn’t lose at anything.