Thursday night I went to bed with a wierd tugging pain in my groin area. I ended up dreaming about having a miscarriage. It was aweful.
I woke up the next day to find out that my cousin had passed away overnight. She was in her early forties and has a three-year-old little girl.
She had a retinoblastoma, a rare cancer originating in your eye that is hereditary. She originally was treated for this when she was a young child, resulting in her parents splitting up over the stress of it all and one eye being removed with a glass eye being put in its place.
I think that the glass eye was the cause of a lot of self-consciousness, and I know that it took her a while to find someone that she felt comfortable enough with to love and then marry. Her wedding was a few years before C and I were married.
Because she was older, they pretty quickly began trying to have a child. It took a while. Part of this was because they were both older. Part was because they were attempting to genetically screen the embryos for the genes that result in the retinoblastoma. Every embyro that was tested carried the genes and had to be discarded.
Eventually they just gave up on ART and decided to try naturally. Miraculously, she became pregnant with a beautiful daughter who did not carry the genes contributing to this cancer. She was so thrilled, so fulfilled. They were finally getting their healthy child who wouldn't be subjected to the horrific childhood that my cousin went through.
When their daughter was 6 months old, they sold their condo and bought a beautiful house in an area with a great school district. Within a month of closing on the house, my cousin began having severe stabbing headaches. The cancer had returned.
For the past two years, my cousin has been in the hospital more than she's been at home. She's had numerous surgeries, radiation, and chemotherapy. She ended up losing her second eye, rendering her completely blind for the past year. She traveled to different hospitals from Cleveland to Philadelphia to California in search of any treatment that would give her hope of regaining her life.
Her ailing mother had moved into their house to help take care of her daughter while her husband missed countless hours of work to travel with her to all of the appointments. Her father, my blood uncle, remained estranged from her despite the knowledge that this was occurring. We stopped talking with him as a result of being forced, by him, to "choose sides."
On the eve of one of these surgeries, thousands of miles from her daughter and the rest of her family, she bled out and passed away.
Her entire story is tragic. To overcome so much and finally have a taste of a wonderful fulfilling life, and then have it ripped from you overnight. To have missed out on the majority of your child's early life because you were hospitalized and traveling. To be three and never really knowing your mother, your life being complete changed forever. To go through all this effort to ensure that your child never has to share in your fate, and then she has a fate altogether different but equally deplorable. My heart aches for them all.