On September 22, I will be walking 26.2 miles in the Boston Marathon Jimmy Fund Walk to raise funds for lung cancer research at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute in memory of my husband Mitch. He’s missed so much during the past 16 years, having only lived for the first year of our grandchild Zach (who is now driving and looking at colleges). He wasn’t around to experience and love Mikayla (gymnast, soccer star and songwriter), Kira (soccer and basketball star), Megan (dancer and entertainer) and Emily (youngest of them all and budding gymnast).
A few months ago as I was driving three year old Emily home from preschool, she asked me, “Did your Grandpa get deaded?” Translation – “Did the Grandpa who should be with you die?” I answered “yes,” to which she responded “why?” I wanted to answer her question without scaring her and told her that Grandpa got very sick and the doctors couldn’t make him well again.
It’s still so sad for me, and although strides are being made in the treatment of lung cancer, the five year survival rate is still only 6% for someone like Mitch, in whom the cancer had spread by the time of diagnosis. And so I continue to walk.
Once again Team Mitch will be supporting Geoffrey Oxnard. In a recent email to me he stated that he continues to study rare families with inherited lung cancer. He is also very excited about his progress in research studying blood tests to detect lung cancer, although he said it’s only “the beginning of a long road to make these tests a reality for patients.”
To finish with the Emily story, she asked if I drove Mitch to heaven (at least that’s what I thought she said), or if he drove himself. I honestly can’t remember how I responded to that question, but soon after that it was apparent that Emily was not saying “heaven,” but “Kevin.” I tried correcting her but, in true Emily fashion, she would have none of it. Oh the moments Mitch has missed…
You can support Team Mitch by walking or contributing. You can do this on line, at http://danafarber.jimmyfund.org/goto/SherrieBarlas-2019 or by sending a check made out to Jimmy Fund Marathon Walk to me at 11 Indian Dawn, Wayland, Massachusetts 01778.
I cannot imagine that any of you reading this letter have not been touched by cancer. Please help me fight this horrific disease. Please do it for Mitch. Please do it for your loved ones. Please do it for yourself.