For as long as I can remember my grandma, Mavrine, was a large part of my life. As a little girl, I loved her so much and knew even at that age she was my best friend. She was sweet, kind, loving, and never met a stranger. My daughter, Kendall, was 7 when grandma passed away but she still remembers her as if she were still here.
I used to think about what life would be like without her; what our family would be like without her. I never imagined she would have to hear the words "you have cancer."
A couple of years before she was diagnosed she started showing signs of not feeling well...she went to many doctors appointments but it was always said to be something else. She would be given medication which would only subside the symptoms temporarily. Her symptoms were bloating, which caused weight gain, feeling full quick, frequently going to the bathroom, and indigestion.....I know now that these are the symptoms that go along with Ovarian Cancer which was never mentioned at her doctor appointments.
My grandma was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in October 2009 and passed away July 2011 at the age of 78. Since then, I have become an active advocate for spreading awareness of Ovarian Cancer. I feel like my purpose in life now is to honor my grandma by spreading awareness, raising money, and saving lives.
Since becoming an advocate, I have met some very special people, one of whom I now consider one of my closets friends, Janine DeFeo. Janine and I have started a non-profit called, Teal Butterfly Challenge. The challenge is to spread awareness for Ovarian Cancer...one way we thought would be fun was to get people to paint their nails teal, make a butterfly symbol, post to social media and challenge others.....we have had people from all over the world take the challenge! It's been amazing. We want women to know the signs, know your bodies! If something doesn't feel right and your instincts tell you something is wrong..get a 2nd opinion, or a 3rd...however many it takes to get answers. Ovarian cancer cannot be detected in a pap smear, if you have any of the symptoms mentioned above or know anyone that does, please see your doctor.
My grandma left a legacy. So many people in my life and my families lives will always remember her for the amazing woman she was. I can only hope to leave the kind of legacy she did.
I will continue to fight this fight for her as long I am here on earth...Cancer did not win!!!
This is how a family friend recently described my grandma in an email I received: "Your grandmother was so special to my mom. She was a faithful friend. I only have the best memories of your grandmother...so kind, always smiling and happy..such a blessing to know her." And that is exactly how my grandma's legacy goes on.
Grandma left a special imprint on Kendall's heart; on all of our hearts. I truly miss her so much, but am thankful for the opportunity and platform to raise awareness for others.