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In 1991, I met and fell in love with a beautiful girl named Christy Joy. I was sober for the first time and a single parent of three small children. Christy stepped in and provided the motherly love my kids needed and together we pursued growth, healing, and life. Christy was my best friend and companion. We traveled; we hiked, biked and loved our life, our friends, and our family. We loved to be together and loved each other deeply. Our marriage was satisfying and beautiful; we thought we would grow old together, but life had other plans.
In December 2007, Christy had a day of weird episodes where she felt like she was in a dream. These lasted for seconds at first, but continued to escalate in length and intensity. She had no control over these. We decided to cancel our plans for that Friday evening and stay home and take it easy. If the strangeness didn’t stop, we would go to the hospital. Well, a full blown seizure got us to the ER shortly thereafter. After many tests and many guesses in the course of a week, we were sent to the Cleveland Clinic for further testing. Another week passed, with the same results of no answer. They sent in a neuro-oncologist at the end, but ensured us this was only a precaution. Well, he had no doubt what the problem was and gave us his thoughts on what was occurring. At that point, hearing brain cancer didn’t sink in. We just wanted to go home and after six days in the hospital, we were out of there and on the road home in no time.
Our life became one of blood tests, MRIs, seizures, trips to Cleveland and a couple of biopsies, the last of which, in June 2008, gave us the diagnosis: anaplastic astrocytoma. At least we knew at that point what we were fighting, and radiation and chemo were the next options. We were hopeful and confident that we could beat this. After three weeks of whole brain radiation, quality of life was dramatically changed as Christy was physically drained, and although her beautiful heart was present, she was increasingly frustrated with her ability to think. She had to give up her role with our company (we started our own computer consulting company in 1999). She felt like she was letting me down. I found new things that she could do to help her feel like a contributor. Even these became more and more difficult. We tried to live as normal a life as possible, taking walks when we could and even traveling to our favorite vacation spot in Tennessee, but the cancer was always present and always found a way to interrupt our moments of peace and happiness.
We hoped, but we sensed our time together was fast coming to an end. These were intimate conversations and although difficult, brought us even closer together. After a beautiful evening of great food and close friends and family, the next day brought the beginning of the end. Christy began to get more and more fatigued and just wanted to rest and sleep. On Saturday she closed her beautiful blue eyes. After a week of praying, singing to her, reading to her and holding her in my arms each day, on February 19th, 2010, Christy took her last breath. As I listened to her heartbeat for the last time and in the silence that followed, my own heart was forever broken. I loved Christy with everything in me and I miss her so very much. We (beautiful friends and family) traveled to Tennessee and hiked to Mt Leconte on a beautiful, clear Mother’s day and spread her ashes per her request. A time in life I will never forget. I have since been running half and full marathons for the Tug McGraw foundation (Team McGraw) to raise money and awareness for brain cancer survivors and caregivers. I am writing, cycling, playing the guitar and pursuing health and relationships with a newness and freshness, but life is a struggle each and every day. I miss my girl! My life has been turned upside down and inside out. I truly will never be the same.