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I met a woman named Mom – This is her story

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 8, 2014 by runmyssierun

Last week, I met a woman and her son at a luncheon… her name is MOM. This is her story:

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Evan's Mom told us her story and what Vannie Cook Cancer Clinic did for Evan and her family. As she spoke, her voiced cracked a few times and tears rolled down her face... Evan stood by her patting her back trying to comfort her. These are the stories, these are the families that YOU help. Please read her speech and see the other children of Vannie Cook Cancer Clinic at the end of this post.

Evan’s Mom told us her story and what Vannie Cook Cancer Clinic did for Evan and her family. As she spoke, her voiced cracked a few times and tears rolled down her face… Evan stood by her patting her back trying to comfort her. These are the stories, these are the families that YOU help. Please read her speech and see the other children of Vannie Cook Cancer Clinic at the end of this post.

Mom that’s my name I don’t have any other name but mom. I remember the first time hearing doctors and nurses calling me mom, it seemed odd to me, having grown adults calling me mom…But that’s who I am …Mom.

            In November of 2010, around Thanksgiving time, my son Evan got the flu.  We gave him Tamiflu and after five days when he was still sick, I took him back to his pediatrician.  The pediatrician told me we had to go right away to the hospital. Evan needed to be admitted into ICU …this sense of urgency or fear a sort of internal siren went off!  I remember I wanted to run… I wanted to grab Evan and leave …drive far away and never look back. I was scared …The “mom” inside me knew there was something wrong.

The next morning I met a doctor who said, mom I’m Dr. Bernini, as he introduced himself …. By that evening the same doctor would say the words that would shatter my world as I knew it: MOM YOUR SON HAS LEUKEMIA.

Cancer? leukemia?   The word paralyzed me, I heard it but was it a dream ..more like a nightmare? I recall I couldn’t feel my legs …I was weak… and before I knew it I was sitting. You can’t even see what’s going on around you because your eyes are blurred from the tears that won’t stop coming … Family members, they mean well, are researching … And emailing you information on St. Jude and other treatment options. You are trying to be a mom and just comfort your son but you have to get him well too … Fast.  Between the blurred vision, the advice coming from every direction, and the feeling of being paralyzed …the only thing I do remember .. Is feeling Dr. Bernini grab my hand and hearing him say, Mom I promise to do all that I can to save your sons life.

I have 3 children 2 daughters who are now 10 & 8 and my son Evan 5 yrs old. Cancer is a beast and doesn’t just pick on one he picks on the entire family. His sisters quickly saw the change of Evan’s once terrible two’s personality become more like that of an 80 year old mans. Our daughter’s needed my husband and I …and we all needed each other more than ever.

Evan battled leukemia  for over 3 years … He was bald, had surgeries, port infections, fevers, hospital ICU sick stays, side effects from chemo, went bald …Grew hair … threw up …a lot …slept …a lot, slept none – on steroids … Got swollen, gained weight, then got much too thin  …. None of the things I imagined for my only son … Nothing a mom would ever imagine for their child. Cancer is a nightmare for the entire family …and I would be lying if I said I never had nightmares of Dr. Bernini calling me to tell me Evan’s counts are off. It lurks… and haunts our family. So as a mom one can only imagine how helpless Cancer can make you feel.

            To be in McAllen not so far from where we live in Harlingen, has been such a blessing for that reason. If I didn’t have Vannie Cook Clinic, I don’t know how I would have dealt with still being a mom of 3 and a wife.  Life keeps coming at you … During the almost 4 years of treatment Evan had, there are birthdays, deaths in the family, siblings with colds, car batteries that die and of course bills to be paid. LIFE.  Imagine being behind on your mortgage then finding out your AC is shot, its 92 degrees in your house, and the fridge decides to go out too …your house smells of spoiled food …. But the worst part your son has a 102 fever and pneumonia and needs to go to the hospital. It’s not a doctor’s visit it’s a hospital stay when you have Cancer … And can be life or death. If you didn’t feel completely helpless during this entire time well now you feel as if life is picking on you And U want to just scream out …what more do you want ?!  .  That day I wanted to throw my hands in the air and just give up -I felt guilt knowing my son Evan never gives up….I called and talked to a nurse at Vannie cook, and then confided in the social worker, Yadhira … Some days she’s the only person that can get anything out of me because I’m just so drained ….  Yadhira, the social worker was able to find resources that helped us pay for a new motor that fixed our AC and located financial assistance that helped us make a payment to our mortgage company within days.  Evan stayed in the hospital for 4 days and thanks to the clinic’s social worker, I was able to keep focus on just him. It was our saving grace … And believe me when I say there’s no way to get through this long journey without that grace.

I remember the first time I walked into The Vannie Cook Clinic and I looked around. There were bald children and nurses and it seemed like a friendly atmosphere but I remember thinking … We don’t belong here.  My son doesn’t belong here.  Today I stand here and tell you that I am Mom …but in a matter of days that changed …somewhat. …I am a mom with a son who has/had cancer. As you look around this room… really look at the moms, the dads… who have a son or daughter who has cancer … We were once like everyone else.

My name is Mom and my family is part of The Vannie Cook Clinic…my son belongs at The Vannie Cook Clinic, it’s the place where we feel safe ….  God bless Dr. Bernini, Dr. Erana, Dr. Ramirez, Ruthann and all the nurses and staff… God bless you all for being here … And God bless The Vannie Cook Clinic.

If you would like to help and donate to the Vannie Cook Cancer Clinic, please follow the link here: DONATE 

To learn more about the Vannie Cook Cancer Clinic, please follow this link: www.vanniecookchildrensclinic.org

Mom and Me I admire her bravery and hope that more can be done so that no mother ever has to face this ever again.

Mom and Me
I admire her bravery and hope that more can be done so that no mother ever has to face this ever again.

Celebration of Heroes Fashion Show

The children of VCCC modeled fashions from Zoodles in McAllen. At the end of the show, Zoodles announced that each of the children could keep the clothes they were styled in. I wish you could have seen their faces!!! They were so excited.

These are the children:

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What’s the right thing to say?

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 12, 2014 by runmyssierun
Funeral visitation for John Zess will be at Rudy Garza Funeral Home. They are located at 1702 E. Harrison Avenue in Harlingen, TX 78550. Visitation will be on Saturday, September 13 from 12noon – 9pm. A private viewing for the family will be on Friday

Funeral visitation for John Zess will be at Rudy Garza Funeral Home. They are located at 1702 E. Harrison Avenue in Harlingen, TX 78550. Visitation will be on Saturday, September 13 from 12noon – 9pm. A private viewing for the family will be on Friday

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“You’re the first person I thought to call,” he said. (I won’t disclose his name)

I had some serious thought provoking conversations regarding the safety of cyclists in South Texas. A close friend of John Zess called me this morning. Clearly he was having a tough time dealing with the loss of his cycling buddy of many years. He admitted bursting out into a loud cry shortly before he called. He knew I had just recently experienced those exact same feelings not too long ago with Eddie Arguelles’ tragic cycling death.

“People don’t understand until it happens to them,” he said while his normally booming, strong voice cracked with emotion.

And he is so right. People really DON’T understand until it happens to them. Sadly, that means that many more will die on our streets before our community will get it. And then it will take something incredibly awful – I’m talking dreadfully, unspeakable awfulness – to happen to THEM in order for them to change their bad habits.

“What’s the right thing to say?” he asked me. “Do you tell people not to ride in the dark?”

We delved into a conversation that led us further into a confusing mess similar to the chicken and the egg. What do you address first? Who do you address first? What do you tell the other party in the meanwhile?

We have become so fixated on blame that we have become blind to the solution that is actually quite simple. But of course, us humans seem to complicate that solution. What is the solution?

Simple. Follow the law.

If we just didn’t drink all night long during the football game – over the limit of the law = All 50 states have now set .08% Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) as the legal limit for Driving Under the Influence (DUI) or commercial drivers, a BAC of .04% can result in a DUI conviction nationwide – then we wouldn’t have drunk drivers hitting cyclists or pedestrians or other cars. Simple, right? Put the drink down. And if you can’t put the drink down… give your keys to someone who didn’t drink (or smoke or snort or dope up)… AT ALL.

Simple, right?

Put the phone down. Simple, right?

Don’t speed. Simple, right?

Pay attention. Simple, right?

But let’s face it… life isn’t that simple. Even if cyclists do EVERYTHING possible to follow the law and EVERYTHING possible to be safe and visible, a black and white law that seems to simply state what should be legal and what should be illegal can be interpreted a completely different way by a good attorney or jury or a judge. And while we’re at it, let’s face it again… the life of the cyclist lost can never truly be given justice nor can a monetary value be given to their worth nor will their loss ever be felt as deeply as it should by that judge nor the person who took it away.

In fact, since you and I are being blunt with each other, let’s talk about the attitudes that we have towards cyclists on the road, cyclists who are hit and cyclists who are killed.

Now, let me be clear about this – THIS IS MY OPINION and it comes from what I have witnessed personally – I love my community and proud of how well it has overcome many of it’s growing pains because we really have grown quickly in a few number of years. The news headlines gets it’s ratings from talking about political leaders abusing power and going to jail but the political leaders that I’ve associated with have actually become a PART of the community and have kicked the ivory tower to the curb, joined its citizens on bike rides or runs and even marathons and have become active in pursuing infrastructure improvements for encouraging physical activity in our community. Our local police have protected my run group along the trail and have stopped alongside the road several times to render aid to a fellow cyclist who didn’t go over the tracks correctly or simply got a flat tire.

My friends, neighbors and friends I have yet to meet have become inspired with our community health kick and have cautiously joined the wave. They watch with wide eyes as people in big trucks or SUVs zoom by cyclists honking, cussing, throwing half empty beer bottles at them and even worse… intentionally swerving their way to knock them down. They see the local news anchors skim through the auto/ped fatality so that we can have time to discuss the NFL game this coming weekend or car that was abandoned in La Joya with the load of pot in the back seat. Everywhere we look, we see validation that the life of a cyclist seems less valuable than that of any other human.

It has become almost a daily ritual that someone tells me that I should not be riding my bike on the road.

“Roads are for cars not bikes.”
“Go ride your bike in a park where you’re supposed to be.”
“Why do you ride on 2nd street when there’s a side walk there?”
“You shouldn’t ride that early in the day. It’s too dark.”
“You shouldn’t ride at night. It’s too dark.”
“You shouldn’t ride in the day. It’s too hot.”
“You shouldn’t ride around Mission Trails. There are too many illegals crossing.”

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So back to our thought provoking conversations…

The following was sent via Facebook private message (I won’t disclose her name)

“Myssie, I saw all you did and you inspired me to get up and do something good, too. I want to become healthy. I’m tired of being fat and not being able to play with my kids. I want to live a long healthy life but what’s the point if I’m supposed to sit here and accept that most likely I’m going to get hit and killed by a drunk driver way before a heart attack has the time to get me?”

What am I supposed to say? What’s the right thing to say?

I want to encourage people to be healthy and have fun doing it and do good for others and continue to push the healthy wave to others…

But what if I encourage someone to go out there and their life is taken away?

What if mine is taken away?

Since the age of six, I’ve had a recurring nightmare about the way I die. Those who are very close to me have heard the story several times. Even my husband knows how serious I am about this dream and will never drive down Hobbs Drive because of it… but I ride by it on my 5am ride. It is by far the biggest fear I have.

I am not going to pretend I have the answer to it all. I’ve even questioned my own sudden desire to go back to running marathons and leaving cycling. I won’t lie and say I’m not scared. But I also cannot, after all I have learned about overcoming fear and challenges these last few years, be bullied by fear to abandon the sport of cycling… a sport that led me to emotional and physical healing. I cannot let go of it.

What’s the right thing to say?

What’s the right thing to do?

Why is this so complicated now? If that answer just popped up in your head right now… do you believe your own answer?

P.S. The Ghost Ride planned for John Zess on Saturday morning at 7:00a.m. has been postponed due to expected thunderstorms on Saturday morning. Please find more details on the rescheduling of the ride on John’s facebook page, Bicycle World’s FB page or Lone Star Pacesetter’s FB page.

More media links on the latest regarding John Zess: http://www.valleycentral.com/news/story.aspx?id=1095044#.VBJtjvldV8F

We can not let fear deter us from doing the things we love. Cycling is a rather safe activity to partake here in the RGV as hundreds of cyclists were out and about yesterday and every day without incident. Unfortunately, we do have a *BIG* problem with drinking and driving in the area, and this is what is causing the majority, if not all, of the fatalities. I am a big believer that bicycles belong on the road. However, I am also realistic and practical when it comes to finding a solution to a complex problem. That is why we are advocating hard to have a dedicated, separated, region-wide bicycle trail. I am hopeful that this can happen in the next couple of years. ~ Ramon Hermida

Another cyclist hit and run tragedy

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 8, 2014 by runmyssierun

Just as I was about to get my notes out about the Girl’s Tri in Harlingen yesterday and shout out to the world about my very first and probably only time on the podium’s first place block with a “what a way to celebrate my momma’s birthday!”…

I’m going to save that scheduled post and stay back for a while because of the man that I met yesterday at the Girl’s Tri that was joking about how he should have volunteered to do the body marking instead of helping with the bike course. And then went onto say that all these girl’s tri shorts are way too long!

He had a sense of humor that challenged mine. I liked that. After a few short minutes, he took a double take with me and then said “Hey, you’re the cancer girl, right? We need to talk after this race.”

I then went on to the pool to the athletes orientation meeting… and had a great race (that I’ll post about later)

This morning, I found out that John, the same man I just met yesterday was fatally hit and run while on his 5am ride.

I went to his facebook page to take a closer look. He had posted that he had just recently been diagnosed with colon cancer and was preparing to do a race next weekend for cancer while raising funds and awareness — just like I do.

Now I can’t stop thinking if this was what he wanted to talk to me about.

John Zess… all it took was a minute and a giggle. I’m glad I met you. I wish I had known you longer. I hope that someone else out there knows what you intended to talk to me about so that if there was something you wanted to organize for cancer, I could help. In fact, I sure am tempted to do next weeks race FOR you. I wonder…

http://www.valleycentral.com/news/story.aspx?id=1093399#.VA0K4fldV8E

John Zess Fatally hit and run on September 7, 2014 Harlingen, Texas

John Zess
Fatally hit and run on September 7, 2014
Harlingen, Texas

Ironically, he has posted several times on his facebook page a simple black and white graphic with a saying “Don’t run me over”

Media & news updates:

http://www.kurv.com/local/6371

http://www.krgv.com/news/driver-turns-himself-in-after-allegedly-striking-a-bicyclist/

http://www.valleycentral.com/news/story.aspx?id=1093981

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