Loved and lost to breast cancer

By Kaitlin Barr
October 25, 2007

Four years ago this December, I lost someone very close to my heart to breast cancer.

To me, she was my second mother, someone I could always go to whenever I was feeling happy, mad, or depressed. Always with a smile on her face, Maryann had the most amazing personality I had ever experienced; and I never even got to say goodbye.

Her good mood and upbeat attitude was contagious. Just being with her made anyone that was around her a happier person. Always willing to help someone out, or buy you a pick-me-up gift if you were feeling down, words are hard to describe how truly amazing Mar really was.

For years, even when she was in the middle of chemo treatments, Mar would plan trips to New York City for all of the girls in the neighborhood and their moms to see Broadway shows. She would put together brown-bagged lunches for everyone, along with snacks and movies for us to watch on the bus ride there and home.

Every Easter, she would plan an Easter egg hunt with my mom for every child in our neighborhood.

Her daughter was closer with my mom and I was closer with Mar, and it stayed that way until I was 18. Always knowing the right thing to say, Mar helped me overcome so many obstacles in my life, as well as giving me the confidence I desperately needed when people would make fun of the way I looked.

I had no idea Mar had cancer, until all of a sudden she was wearing bandanas around the house and having doctors appointments all the time. Seeing different wigs in her room confused me a little, because I didn’t understand why she was sick.

I actually don’t even remember anyone telling me that she was sick. Mar had been diagnosed with breast cancer when I was thirteen years old and I think I was too young to understand what was going on.

By the time I was sixteen, I think I finally realized how serious of a disease she did have. I would try and make it over there once a week, bringing her flowers every time I saw her.

In my senior year of high school, I had an operation on my knee due to some track and basketball injuries. On Dec. 9, I went into the hospital to undergo surgery. A week later, on the 16, I made my way over to Mar’s house to show her how good I was doing in recovery.

On my way over, I noticed a lot of cars outside and when I made my way into the house, I heard a baby monitor with Mar’s voice coming out of it, whining and moaning.

No one had told me. They didn’t want me to “freak-out” over the fact that Mar had hospice in her house and wasn’t expected to live more than a week. I was devastated. I never thought she would be that bad.

When I went into her room, her eyes were closed and she could hardly talk. No one knew if she was with it enough to understand what people were saying to her.

She was shriveled up in her bed, white as a ghost, looking absolutely horrible. Some days, I wish I had never seen her like that. I told her I would come back soon to see her because the doctor had come when I was there.

I was too late. On Dec. 21, 2003, my second mother, one of the most amazing women I had ever met in my life, died.

Going over to her house, the coroner was there, carrying out her body. I didn’t believe what I was seeing. I had never cried that hard in my life. Not only was she gone, but I never really got to tell her how much she meant to me.

To this day, I wonder if she knew how much I loved her and how much she helped me grow up.

I really hope she did, because without her in my life, I wouldn’t have gotten through a lot of the experiences that occurred throughout my life.

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Kaitlin Barr

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