Mary, my beloved sister and dearest friend, was a beacon of light in our large family of seven children. As the youngest, I always looked up to her – Mary, the fifth in our birth order, who left us too soon at the age of 53 in September. Her journey was marked by a valiant fight against colorectal cancer since her diagnosis in 2017. Mary’s life was a testament to bravery, relentless determination, hard work, and an immeasurable love for family, friends, and the essence of life itself.
In our close-knit community, many are aware of the challenges she bravely faced. From a young age, Mary battled a cleft palate, navigated through special education classes, and endured chronic and severe respiratory issues. Her life was further complicated by the absence of a med13L diagnosis, which remained elusive throughout her lifetime. Mary often felt the sting of being ‘different,’ especially compared to her siblings who thrived as athletes and scholars. Witnessing her struggles as her sister was heart-wrenching, yet she remained an unwavering source of inspiration.
Mary’s experiences, now reflecting the hallmarks of med13L, were a mosaic of physical and mental adversities that she faced with unparalleled courage. In my 47 years, I have learned more from Mary than from anyone else I have encountered. She was not just my sister; she was my greatest teacher and source of inspiration. Her presence made our family and everyone she met better people.
As we remember Mary, my heart goes out to all the children and families navigating life with med13L. Mary’s spirit and lessons continue to guide and inspire us all.