Once in a lifetime someone makes a difference in your life. I do not mean my parents, or my husband, my childhood best friend, or even my child. Someone who takes an interest in your well-being for no reason except that they really give a crap about your future. That was my mentor, and “second mom,” Betty Seise.
When I was a teenager, I worked as Betty’s assistant for a company where she was the Controller. She guided and directed me through school, life decisions, and choosing a future. She supported me when I was right, told me the truth when I was wrong, and encouraged me to the light when it was dark. After her career advanced and I went on to college, Betty remained close by. She was always interested in what I was doing with my life. When I graduated from school, she told me, “The world is your oyster,” and I was inspired by that.
Betty was a champ. She had her shares of ups and downs, but she was a self-made woman, a mom, a daughter, a wife, a leader, and a self-proclaimed life-long student. She was charitable, helped others, and when you told her something you knew she was listening.
So, you can imagine my response when in the summer of 2008 I found out that she had cancer. Stage 4, Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, to be exact. I began researching everything I could find on the disease, and found that 5 in 10 people go into remission post chemotherapy and radiation. I was 100% confident she would be okay. After all, Betty was a fighter. 51 years old, in impeccable shape, a healthy eater, and a holistic healer. She was educated and well-read, so if anyone had a chance for survival…it was her.
Over the next ten weeks, the updates on Betty’s health were up and down. Due to the cancer in her lymph nodes, large amounts of lymph fluid accumulated in her abdomen and under her arms. Doctors had to surgically extract 1.8 liters here, 1.5 liters there, and it was excruciatingly painful for her. She had to maintain iron levels in order to receive the chemotherapy treatments that were imperative to her survival. She spent days in the hospital, lost a great deal of weight, could not eat, could hardly sleep, and eventually could not talk. One day, her condition improved. We had hope! Then on a Monday night, I received the news that she was again hospitalized and was not expected to make it.
09.24.2008 is the day that Betty, my mentor, my second-mom, lost her battle to cancer. And I started the fight. 4 months and 1 day before I was married. Two years and one week before my daughter was born. One day before her son turned 22. One year before her oldest son earned his Master’s Degree. And my life, like many others, has never been the same.
Betty is not the only one. We all know somebody who has won, lost, or is still fighting the battle. There is something that we can do to help. All organizations that provide prevention to support for Cancer patients and their families need volunteers. In fact, many rely on volunteer support to serve those in need. Contact any hospital, cancer treatment center, hospice, American Cancer Society, or Leukemia and Lymphoma society and find out how you can help. Or, volunteer to be a bone marrow donor. ALL of these organizations need volunteers, so JOIN THE FIGHT!
How are you volunteering to fight cancer? Please share. Make YOUR difference in the world…Volunteer!