I am a Grandma's Boy, through and through. My Grandmother (Jackie Bennett) means the world to me. When I was growing up in Las Vegas, she always took care of me when my Mom and Dad were at work. Any chance she had my Grandma would take me to Circus Circus, the park, soccer practice, and pizza parlors. We would spend our weekends watching old scary horror movies and Nick at Night reruns of Bewitched, I Dream of Jeannie and her personal favorite, I Love Lucy. We would even drive to California and she would take me to Disneyland (running from ride to ride from open to close). Needless to say, Grandma spoiled me whenever she was around. More importantly, she taught me, through her example, important life lessons like kindness, love, humor, compassion and strength of character. I always knew my Grandma's love for me was unconditional.
In the Spring of 1998, my Grandma who had already been living with the debilitating effects of Parkinson's disease which she had been diagnosed with 4 years previously was now told she had Lymphoma. My family was devastated and I was a wreck. Granny took it as well as anybody could, though. She stayed strong for the family and for herself. The doctors gave us a grim prognosis. They told us that my beloved Grandma had a 25 percent chance of surviving, and that's IF she could survive the chemo. They warned us that the chemotherapy they planned to use would literally take her to, as one doctor described it, death's doorstep. As a family we did all we could to research the matter and our options. My Aunt found a Doctor at UCLA who was a renowned Lymphoma specialist. We believed that he had the most up to date drug therapies and the most advanced technologies for fighting cancer. During her chemo treatment, she lost all of her hair and became really sick. Though I knew it was meant to help treat her disease, at times it was hard for me to see her in such terrible condition. She was so frail and weak which was such a stark contrast to the Granny I knew who was so full of life - always cracking jokes, smiling, cooking and making sure everyone was okay. I couldn't believe what I was seeing. A year before we were running from the Indiana Jones Ride to Big Thunder Mountain. Now she was in a hospital bed barely eating and without even the strength to raise her own head. In spite of how difficult this must have been for her, no matter how uncomfortable she was, my Grandma never complained - not once - during all of this. And even though that jovial Granny sparkle had left her eyes, still, I had hope because what I saw in its place was her fierce determination to live.
It was that fierce determination, coupled with the unwavering love and support of her family and the skilled care of the medical team at UCLA that helped my Grandma beat the odds and survive her bout with Lymphoma. It was a hard fight and there were many dark moments but Granny stayed strong and we were all very grateful she survived such a terrible ordeal. My Grandma has gone on to live as full of a life as she possibly can. We have celebrated many more holidays then we ever thought we would together. We have laughed more, we have lived more, and created many more memories to cherish. She has seen her Grandchildren graduate, get married, and has even welcomed her 1st Great Granddaughter into the world.
Even though cancer has not reared it's ugly head again my Grandma continues to be psychically diminished by the effects of the progressive Parkinson's disease. Her days are not what they used to be, however she is happy, her spirit unbroken and still she never complains. Granny has and always will be my hero.
Sometimes we come in to the gym and complain about the workout..."it's too hard", "I hate running", "i didn't get enough sleep," traffic was terrible" etc. We're all guilty of complaining at one time or another. Just remember there are people out there, like Granny, who fight the good fight to stay alive every day, and would give anything to be as healthy as we all are right now. Four years ago when I decided to run my first triathlon in San Diego my Grandma tried so hard to be there but couldn't because she fell ill. She called me right before the race and told me how proud she was of me and that I was her biggest hero. To me that meant the world and I couldn't have asked for a better pre-race pep talk.
Whether its Cancer, Parkinson's or any other terrible disease. The point of this is not to make you feel bad, it's to inspire you much like Granny has inspired me. That's why raising money for cancer research is so important. It's doing your part for something and someone that matters. $1 or $1000 can go a long way. So, please, for Granny and for the rest of the cancer survivors and the patients going through treatment, donate what you can or sign up and create a page and make a difference.
- Joshy G