A Speech By Audrey’s Mom, Gail
Thank you all for being here!
About a year ago, Audrey filled out this Voicing my Choices document.
The purpose of this document is to tell others what your end of life wishes are.
Audrey wanted to have a Celebration of Life ceremony.
She wanted an Irish Style Funeral celebration.One where people laugh, tell stories, and have a good time.She wanted us to be happy for her because she is in a better place and all of the pain and sickness is gone.
One of the questions on this form is:
“How would I like to be remembered on my birthday?”
Her response was:
“Have a drink on me!”
The next question was:
“How would I like to be remembered on other important days?”
to which her response was:
“Have another drink on me!”
That was so her! She didn’t want us to get together today and talk about death and dying.
She wanted us to come together and talk about LIFE and LIVING! And that’s what we are going to do today!
Afterwards we want to invite you all to join us for lunch here in the museum. You are welcome to eat inside or outside on the benches. And, of course, there will be beer and wine so that we can have that drink on Audrey as she requested.
But before we get this party started, I have here a speech that Audrey wrote when she was asked to speak at a Cancer seminar.
She didn’t have the opportunity to give her speech..
So I would like to read it to you now on Audrey’s behalf.
Many of you may not know me, and wouldn’t recognize me in a crowd, seeing as I don’t have any amazing, or vastly different, features, anymore.
6 months ago, I was bald for the fourth time. I was used to the stares, mothers walking their children to the other side of the street, the general looks of fear sent my direction, the occasional jeer…
It was the uncomfortable part of my condition that I had to deal with. It made me want to curl up in the fetal position, and bawl my eyes out.…
But. I had a responsibility – my dog depended on me to safely get him home, and feed him.
Family and friends were praying for me, sending me well wishes to get better, and soon.
I was obligated to persistently fight my fight.
I was diagnosed with brain cancer on Christmas Day of 2008. About 3 months after I became a legal adult.
I was on my college swim team, I ran track, used to compete regularly in Horseback Riding Competitions – Specifically eventing, arguably the most challenging of equine sports for English-style riding.
But Now, with the diagnosis of having cancer, it felt like my entire life was spinning out of control. Fast.
2 brain surgeries later, I could barely move enough to blink my eyes. I wasn’t able to speak for an entire 4 months. I was thinking through all the words that were said to me, and around me, but I could not comprehend them.
Almost like hearing a foreign language. Knowing the word, but not being able to make sense of the entire phrase. After listening, and processing words for 4 months, I attempted to speak, and it has only gotten better since.
Now, 5 years later, I am walking of my own accord. Before my balance got worse, again, I was able to run for a very short distance.
I will be the first one to admit that this road has been a long and difficult one, but I know that I still have further to go.
One saying that has helped me to get through these 5 long years, (which, apparently, I myself said) is that of worry.
“I’m not going to worry about it, until I need to worry about it, and right now, I don’t feel like I need to worry about it.”
I find myself having to repeat that quote to myself almost daily, since I tend to psych myself out with fear.
Succumbing to my fear would mean mental paralysis. I would be unable to do something as simple as get out of bed in the morning.
Daily, hourly even, I must overcome my fears in order to best provide for my family, and allow them to help me.
Another bit of advice that I have received from my fiancé, is to “take things slow.” With his advice, I have been able to walk slightly better, and do things that I would normally be terrified to even try – not to mention, attempt on my own…
I don’t remember how long ago, or even if I have all of the facts correct, but I heard of an experiment that was done with water.
Nothing special about it, just regular water that would come out of your kitchen faucet. When the water was spoken to in a positive manner, it was calm and quiet. However, when the water was spoken to in a negative manner, it became agitated. Rough.
So is the same with how one mentally treats themselves, as well as their “support system” that is encouraging them.
If you let them, negative thoughts can harm you, and cause you to mentally paralyze yourself.
If you let them, they can completely take over your life.
Yes, if you have my condition, every minute can be distressing. But you have to Live for today!
You know that you have this moment right now. Don’t worry about tomorrow. It hasn’t shown its face, yet. It is not here, yet.
In that sense, do not belittle, or ridicule, others for what their fears might be because someday – hopefully not! – you may have your own limitations and fears, too.
If you do, unfortunately, develop your own fears, or limitations, do what you can within them. Thrive. And Live!
I could write a book about all of my personal limitations. The good news, is that
there is ALWAYS a silver lining for every storm.
Look personal limitations in the face, and laugh at them as much as possible.
For a while, it was a family joke that for my Christmas gift, I got a brain tumor!
And Now, the song “Radioactive” performed by Imagine Dragons, is my theme song, because I have received so many radiation treatments. For a while, it was believed – jokingly – that I glowed in the dark.
This is what I have learned through my experience with cancer:
Don’t worry. It doesn’t do anything good for you.
Fight fear – because it will paralyze you.
Take things slow – and you will be able to do everything better!
Don’t yell at the water!
Live for today!
And always find something to laugh about!