Mary Schlabach

Family
Wednesday, July 31
Family. What's your definition of family? I came across one today that states: "Family consists of nurturing relationships with compassion, love and care, and supporting its members during phases of hardship and troubles."  

Any of us that have experienced hardships together as a family, especially cancer, can relate to that definition.  When the news came that my older brother, John was diagnosed with multiple myeloma three years ago, having more than 80% of the cancer already in his bone marrow, it was time for our family to pull together in love and support. I found myself doing whatever I could to help, which included being able to thoroughly clean his house before he came home with no immune system after his stem cell transplant. I also become a caregiver during that time to give his wife, Bonnie much needed breaks. The hardest part of all of this for me besides not knowing what the outcome of his battle would be, was watching my big brother have to deal with such an incredible amount of pain mostly caused from 10 compression fractures in his spine. It was heartbreaking.

Days go by, and John has fought his battle with multiple myeloma well. The doctors gave John a life expectancy of three, maybe four years, and here we are three-and-a-half years later. We are once again facing something together, only this time it's full of hope and expectation as we are preparing to trek through Iceland for three days to raise funds and awareness for MMRF, as they work to find a cure for multiple myeloma.  

It's beyond words how proud I am of my big brother, both as I watched him fight this terrible cancer, and now as I get to share in his victory as he conquers Iceland. Family is not only walking together through the difficult times, but also sharing in the victories and mountain top experiences. What an honor for me to experience both of those with John.
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