Mary Ann | Heroes of RVA

(1/4) When she was first diagnosed, she had a 75% cure rate. But when the cancer came back, it went right to her lungs. At that point, the doctors had told us that her odds of survival were pretty dismal. I actually carried a DNR in my purse for 6 months after she relapsed. But I never stopped hoping that we’d be able to fix her.

(2/4) We had gone to the movies that evening to celebrate her birthday. Later that night, she had gotten really sick. She asked me if she was going to die that night, and I told her no, that we were going to cuddle. The next morning, I took her into the clinic and they told us it wouldn’t be long. Her doctor offered to give her some medicine so we wouldn’t have to tell her what was happening. But I had made a promise to her, when she first got sick, that if it ever got to the point when we knew we couldn’t fix her, I would tell her. She got so angry. She screamed a lot. She asked us to do more chemo, begged for a lung transplant. She said, “Mom, I’ve done everything they told me to do. Why isn’t it working? You can’t let this happen.” We finally ended up giving her some Ativan to help her calm down. Once she did, she said, “I’m going to have to tell my friends.” I told her she didn’t have to- that I would do it for her, but she insisted.

(3/4) By the time her friends got there the next day, the meds had made it so that she wasn’t really able to talk, but her eyes were open and she was very much coherent. I stood beside her bed and they came up, one by one to say goodbye. I held their hands and said, “Abbie can’t talk right now, but she wanted me to tell you how much she loves you. She’s getting ready to go be with Jesus, and you’ll have to make a new friend, but she’s always going to be with you. You have to know that.” One of her friends was pleading with us to try something else, and I had to tell her no, that it was too late. Some of them put friendship rings on her hands. They put a blanket down on the floor so that they could be close to her. They were eight and nine years old- just little girls.

(4/4) After Abbie got sick, she started talking about wanting a sister. She wanted us to adopt another little girl, and she wouldn’t let it go. It actually took us three years to find out that we could go to Hungary and get Melissza. Unfortunately, Abbie never got to meet her, but Melissza knows all about her. And Melissza saved our lives- she’s our silver lining. I think I’d still be rocking myself under the covers somewhere if it weren’t for her. I’ve realized that you don’t ever really get over it. You just learn to live with it as part of your life and have it mesh with everything else. You don’t want to forget the good things, but that means you sometimes have to remember the bad things, too.

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