STILL KICKIN HERO: February 2016 

EVERY MONTH, FUNDS FROM OUR SALES WILL GO TO SUPPORT A NEW PERSON (OR FAMILY. OR ORGANIZATION. OR WHATEVER WE DECIDE) WHO DEFINES WHAT IT MEANS TO BE STILL KICKIN.

MEET TERI.

So, where do I start?
— Teri

When my son plays trains, the tracks are merely a suggestion. The train can go anywhere, and it does. Deep conversations are like that, too. You can pick up that first thought ten minutes after you’ve detoured through cancer and marriage and the loss of a child. In fairness, that’s how a conversation with Teri should go. She’s two rounds into 12 rounds of chemo for the second recurrence of a cancer that is best described as sneaky and…everywhere.

The second day of chemo is the hardest. It’s when the nausea shows up and the fatigue settles in, but she’s got time to call me before her grandkids come home from school and daycare, when her quiet house fills back up with the sounds of life and love and homework.

 They’ve been here since their mother – Teri’s daughter, Ashley – died unexpectedly and suddenly this winter. Just after Teri’s cancer came back.

 It’s dark right now.

This is the kind of shit that just can’t happen to one family. Except that it does, and even if someday time will heal you and it will all be okay and blahblahblah, right now…it’s hard.

 It wasn’t always like this, though. Teri had a normal life. A solid marriage with her beloved Ron, who she married right out of high school like she was living in a Taylor Swift song before Taylor Swift was even born. Four beautiful kids. 8 amazing grandkids.

 And then – there is always a then – she didn’t feel good. Maybe it was ulcers, maybe it was any number of things doctors thought it could be. But no, it was cancer. Colon Cancer that turned out to be Everywhere Cancer. And perhaps 4-6 months left to live.

 But Ashley wasn’t having it. She found the doctor who could save her mother’s life. He was in DC, and he was highly sought after, but she got in touch, and Teri was off to DC, and 12 hours of surgery, determined to live.

I thought, I can live! I can live!

Ashley and Teri were the kind of mother-daughter duo who spoke every day. Not always long conversations, just enough to check in. But one day, this past December, when Ashley didn’t pick up her phone, didn’t reply to texts… Teri knew something was off.

I just needed to hear her voice every day.

 Moms. Always. Know.

Teri was right, but not the way she expected to be, and a few weeks later, she was decorating her Christmas tree with her grandchildren, helping them to have a normal holiday even though their mother had died just weeks before.

The kids chose their mother as their Christmas theme, hanging photos of her from the tree and writing letters to her. That night, they each lit a wish lantern and released it into the cold Minnesota sky, four little lights shining bright in the darkness.

Nora McInerny Purmort

Founder and CEO, Still Kickin, and the Still Kickin Board of Directors