On a lot of levels, I’m telling you.
I’ve been writing here for the last three weeks about the benefit for my friend, Stew Byars. I want to talk a little about him this morning because we are having a fundraiser tonight in Martin. I’ve gotten a lot of emails about him and I thought I’d just take a few minutes to chat about him. It’s one thing to tell you about this great guy that we love in northwest Tennessee who has cancer, but then it’s completely another for me to tell you why we love him.
You see, lots of folks get sick. Lots of folks get cancer. And those of us who love them don’t know what to do. So I’m going to tell you about why we are doing this. I can’t share some of the other people’s stories. I can only share mine.
When my mother became sick in 1996, she was diagnosed with lung cancer that had metastasized into her brain. I knew she was sick before she ever went to the doctor. She had trouble walking, she complained about seeing spots and her energy level was nil. Finally, we got her to the doctor and he said she had a severe sinus infection. One week later, after she went on a roller coaster into feeling 1000 times worse, she went back to the doctor and they ran an MRI. It was one week before Christmas and the doctor met me outside the hospital room. My father had gone to take care of some business and I had the grown up lesson that we get when life throws you a curveball. He told me she had a mass in her lung and it had spread to three different parts of her brain. I remember being very calm during all of this and feeling absolutely nothing. I asked how bad and he said it was.
There was nothing left to say at that point. I remember asking about options and he said we could “try”. I then asked him if it was terminal and he just nodded.
Homer and I called Big Daddy and told him the news which has to be the worst night of my entire life on my 42 years on this planet. So, for the next 14 months, she endured horrible chemo, radiation to her head and a remission that lasted about a month.
And we just loved her because it’s all we had.
My mother died in February of 1998 after a hard-fought battle. Homer, Big Daddy and I are approaching the ten year anniversary of her death.
Not a single day goes by that I don’t miss her.
With that said, the powerlessness was amazing. If any of you have ever lost a parent to cancer or any other life-threatening disease and watched them fade away, you know what I’m talking about.
You might say that this benefit for the Stewman is cathartic for me, and you would be right. I saw him on Friday and the chemo, although it is making him sick, has helped. He lifted his left arm in front of Squirrel Queen and I on Friday. I was so proud for him and the smile on his face was infectious. You couldn’t help but just laugh because he has only been able to crawl it up his body to use it since last September.
Do we feel powerless about the cancer that our friend is fighting?
Are we trying to do what we CAN to help him, things that we have a bit of control over. That’s also a yes.
We can’t make the cancer go away, but we can help him. Cancer treatment is not cheap. He is not working now because every moment is spent getting better. The cancer, my friends, is that bad.
So we are doing what the chairman of our little committee said quite eloquently last month that we “have” to do because it all we can do. And because he would do it for us.
Throughout the day, we will be putting updates about the benefit here. We want to help just a little. Are we fighting our own demons? Probably.
Are we trying to raise a bit of money for a person who has been our mentor, our friend and has lifted us when we could not do the heavy lifting for ourselves?
BadBadIvy has committed to buy a T-shirt. If anyone in the Nashville blogosphere is interested in buying a T-shirt designed by Squirrel Queen, I will bring it to you personally within the next couple of weeks to The Sportsman’s Grill in Nashville. They are $20 a piece and they are pretty groovy. (A picture of Mabel and a Newscoma emblem is on the back of them as a sponsor.)
Information about the day’s events will be posted at the official Friends of the Stewman blog. I’ll keep you updated all day about how things are going, and if Holly and Scout are interested, will get them to live blog some of the event over there as well this evening at the FofS blog.
We are doing what we have a bit of control over because we can’t cure the cancer. But we can make it a little more comfortable for him.
So if you can, visit the site, buy a T-shirt, leave a nice sentiment for him as that blog will archive the event.