Almost two years ago, my Uncle Bob, my Dad’s big brother, was diagnosed with a rare form of non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. The news came from across the country in California with surprise and sadness. However, at the time, we knew my uncle was strong and a fighter, and although he had to go through months of various treatments including chemo, we always thought he would pull through. I felt for my cousins that had to go through this, but also admired their strength as a family and lack of self-pity that any of them had.
As my dad put it, “My brother Bob was my protector and teacher for as long as I can remember … then, the unimaginable [happened], Bob was diagnosed with lymphoma. He faced that with incredible courage. He always seemed optimistic about the treatments. He tried to make it more comforting for his family and friends by talking about the lives and needs of others, rather than dwelling on his own health.”
Uncle Bob seemed to be responding to treatment well enough for the first 6 months, but he couldn’t quite beat the cancer. In March, just two days before my wedding shower, I received a call from my Dad. What he said shocked me; it wasn’t the news that I had expected. My Aunt Linda, my Dad’s big sister, had passed away from complications related to a seizure. This was completely unexpected and heartbreaking.
The day after my shower, we went down to Baltimore to say goodbye to my aunt. Uncle Bob was luckily able to make the trip from California to be with his family. My uncle, who I hadn’t seen since before he was diagnosed, came with the same personality I remembered. Funny, smart (my dad and his siblings all seem to be geniuses), and energetic. The chemo had taken away his hair and aged him a decade, but the minute he opened his mouth he was the same Uncle Bob I remembered. The same big brother my dad grew up with.
That day, we talked about my upcoming wedding. We talked about some treatments he had scheduled and that if his tests worked out from a timing standpoint, he’d be dancing at my wedding with the rest of us. His sister had just died and he was in-between bouts of chemo, and all he wanted to talk about was how much he looked forward to making the trip to Philadelphia in June.
Unfortunately, my uncle couldn’t make it to the wedding as he was undergoing more treatment at the time. I felt so sad for my dad that both his brother and sister were missing from that day. Some of my cousins did come, though, and shared in the celebration.
As the summer wore on, the cancer seemed to grow with a vengeance. My Uncle fought hard and probably stole a few more weeks of life than anyone could have imagined. On August 20th, coincidentally the night before my birthday, I got the call that Uncle Bob had passed away.
Because of the distance, I had never been very close to my Uncle, but every time he visited I was reminded of what a wonderful person he was. I loved seeing my dad joke around and get teased by the man who was his big brother. I know that the loss of his siblings took something from him, and the very thought of that breaks my heart.
It has been almost a year since Uncle Bob passed away, and I still don’t believe it is real. I can’t believe that someone with so much life just isn’t around anymore. Now, to honor my uncle and help others who may face their own struggles with Lymphoma, my cousin, Steve, is competing in the Timberman Ironman. In conjunction with this, his goal is to raise $5,000 for research and grants related to blood cancers.
To support Steve, and honor my Uncle Bob, my dad’s big brother, I’ll be hosting a bake sale on the blog Wednesday, June 29th. It would mean the world to me if you would donate a baked good. If you are interested in participating, please email me at keepitsweetlcl at gmail dot com by Thursday, June 23rd. Please send the name of the baked good you’d like to donate, a photo of the dessert and a link to your blog post if you have one. Also, let me know where you can send your baked good to (ie US only, etc.).