Friday, September 28, 2012

Red Dress Canceled Due to Cancer

Yes, you read that right.

I talked to Malea on Monday and she sounded very good and very excited about our photo shoot on Tuesday. I had everything all set to go and was doing this and that to prepare throughout the day. I didn't hear from here again, but I had texted her a couple of times.

Around dinnertime, I finally got a text from her saying that she was unable to breathe and had been taken by ambulance to the hospital. They had her on oxygen and she was going to be admitted. The first thing she said was how sorry she was about having to cancel the photo shoot. Even in a time when her life is in extreme danger, she is thinking about others. That is who she is.

I waited to hear where she would be admitted and what the test results would show. On Tuesday, instead of doing our photo shoot, Misty and I went to Arlington to the hospital where Malea had been admitted. When I walked into her room, she told me that the cancer has now spread to her bones and her other lung. This was just horrible news. Of course, the more it spreads, the worse it is. And this explains why she had been having so much pain. Even the strong drugs weren't cutting it. I hate seeing her suffer this way. Nobody should have to suffer this way. I wouldn't wish this fate on my worst enemy and yet, here are my best friend and my mother both terminally ill with cancer. I'm so afraid and so overwhelmed with emotion that I can't seem to sit still or know what to do with myself.

I talked to Malea on Tuesday at the hospital and told her I wanted to help her get her son, Justyn, and his new infant daughter (her first granddaughter) out here from Seattle as soon as possible. Little did I know that Justyn had the same idea, because he called me after I got home on Tuesday night and told me that he had tickets for Wednesday for himself, his girlfriend, and their baby daughter, Amaryana. He wanted to know if I could come and pick them up at the airport and bring them to the hospital to surprise his mom. Of course I could. (It was Baltimore and I am in Winchester. The hospital is in Arlington. I won't lie and tell you this wasn't an extreme trip for me.)

I managed not to give the secret away and got myself to Baltimore with relative ease. I picked them up and we started on a GPS driven trip that got us lost in Southeast, D.C. in a very bad neighborhood, where I would not have wanted to stop to ask for directions. Streets were closed and the GPS kept wanting to take us up 13th street, which was closed and under construction. After a very stressful half hour, in which my Justin and I yelled at each other over the Blue Link because I was so scared and he was frustrated that he couldn't just come get us out of there, we managed to make it back to the highway and got to the hospital.

When we went in, we stopped for a restroom break. (I had been in the car for four and a half hours at that point and there was no choice. We were stopping.) While we were in the bathroom and Shakesha was changing Amaryana's diaper, I got a text from Malea, asking if I was still willing to help get Justyn his ticket to get him here. I texted back, "Absolutely! Just let me check some flights." We giggled and got on the elevator.

The reunion was amazing and Malea got to meet her granddaughter for the first time.

Photo by Chelle Newton, Editing by Misty Higgins

There were tears and an unbelievable amount of emotion, not to mention a huge uproar over the surprise of the whole thing. Malea and Justin both were overwhelmed and Justyn got the chance to hug his mom in person. The baby was passed around and I even took a turn.

This was not our red dress photo shoot and Malea and I were bitterly disappointed about the fact that every time we plan something, cancer seems to laugh at us and say, "Really? You thought I was going to let you do that?"

At some point, Malea let me know that they were going to be sending her home either today or tomorrow with hospice care. They can only try to keep her comfortable at this point. She will have a hospital bed, a wheelchair, and be on oxygen from here on.

Malea and Jason have a very large family. There are numerous siblings, children, and grandchildren scattered all around the country, as both came to their marriage with children already. I am hoping to raise money by spreading the information on Malea's website (soon to be updated) about her paypal donation button. With so many people here from all over the United States, there are going to be lots and lots of expenses. If you would like to help, please go to Save Malea and click on the Paypal button. Even $10 can make a difference.

Around 8:00 that evening, I decided I really needed to get home to Winchester, a two hour drive from the hospital. I was starting to feel the fatigue setting in and Malea needed the visitors to leave so she could rest. I was flying along when a police cruiser pulled out behind me and indicated I should pull over. At this point, I was pretty resigned to the fact that I had bought myself a speeding ticket, but after explaining to the very nice deputy where I had been and what I had been doing all day and why I was just trying to get home, he decided to write the ticket for the fact that I had my lights off only. (Why did I have my lights off? Because I thought they were automatic and I have never driven my new car at night before. No wonder all those people were flashing their lights at me.) If I had been in a better emotional state, I would have figured it out, but I'm glad they were off, because that gave my deputy something he could write me up on that wouldn't add points to my license. It could have been a reckless driving charge, but the man took pity on me and my overflowing tears.

I have been extremely emotional this week and it promises only to get more intense in the weeks to come. One thing that is helping is watching this video.

The young man with cancer in the video came up with the idea to do a lip sync at Seattle Children's Hospital to go with Kelly Clarkson's Stronger. If you ever wanted to know who a true warrior is, just watch this. Or watch someone you love fight cancer just to stay alive.

The red dress shoot is on hold indefinitely and most likely canceled. Cancer won again. It truly sickens me how much cancer gets to win.

Today, my cause is breast cancer. Get your yearly mammograms and do your self-checks every month. It can be the difference between life and a life sentence.


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