I wasn’t sure when I would be ready to write this post. About 15 months ago my Mother was diagnosed with Cancer; she had a tennis ball size tumor that had obliterated her gallbladder and crushed her bile duct. It’s an extremely rare cancer that has almost no warning signs until it’s very progressed; last April she was given 6-8 months to live. At my Mother’s request, I did not share this on social media. My Mother was an incredibly private person, and only shared her diagnosis with her family and closest friends. The last 15 months, but especially the month of June was incredibly difficult.
After competing in back to back races in LA and Alcatraz, I flew directly to Toronto to meet my Mom. The following day, we were flying out for a special trip: my Mom wanted to see the ocean one last time. Her health was not good at this point. She was in an incredible amount of pain but determined to go to Nova Scotia. We made the trip but my Mom was ill for almost the entire time and wasn't able to get out of bed very much at all. Her room faced the ocean which was wonderful. We would open all the windows and doors and just let the breeze and salt air fill her lungs.
She returned back to Toronto on June 17th and her condition quickly worsened. I drove back up to Canada on June 24th with Jarrod. On that same day, she was placed in hospice as the cancer has spread. My Mom worked at that exact hospice until she was diagnosed. Even though this was a horrible situation, she was surrounded by her beloved co-workers in a familiar setting.
The days that ensued will be etched in my memory forever. My Mother suffered horribly; cancer is a god-awful disease and I wouldn't wish it on my worst enemy. My Mother's fight with cancer ended on July 4th at 11pm. I held her hands as she took her last breath; it is the hardest thing I've ever had to do.
In the fall of 2017, my Father was diagnosed with Parkinson’s and Lewy Body Dementia. It was just 6 months later that my Mom was diagnosed with Cancer. This has inevitably affected my ability to race and train. Most of the time, training and exercise is my therapy. When you’re a caregiver, exercise or working out is time purely for you and it can be very therapeutic. But when they were really sick, it was impossible to train effectively. Last year after Roth, I decided I would likely not attempt any further Iron distance races and that I would try to race in North America as much as possible so I would never be too far away from my parents. Those changes allowed me to be more present and available for both of them.
I’ve been very busy these last few weeks with the planning and execution of her celebration of life as well as settling her estate. My siblings, their significant others and Jarrod have been incredible. Together we are navigating uncharted waters, on a quest that none of us were prepared to embark on. As cliché as it sounds, the silver lining of this shit storm has been how close it brought my siblings and I together. I appreciate them more than ever and wonder how we ever grew so distant in the first place. I’ve been back in the States for about 10 days now and I’m slowly building my training up. I’m hopeful to return to racing in September. I don’t want to rush this; I’m taking time to grieve every day. I know it will be a process, but I’m feeling a little more like myself every day.
- To my husband Jarrod for being everything I could possibly need during this difficult time.
- My family and especially my siblings for their endless support- I never realized how much I would need them in this process.
- My friends for being there for me and Jarrod. Whether it be as a training partner, house sitter, helping with the multiple airport trips, and messages of support when I needed it most.
- My agent, Lisa Bentley, for helping me manage my career during a very challenging time in my personal life.
- My sponsors for understanding and compassion when I haven't quite been at my best.
If you'd like to read my Mom's obituary you can read it here.
If you'd like to make a donation in my Mother's honor (Kathleen Kaye) to Huntsville Hospice where she worked and then eventually spent her final days, you can do so here.
Thank you for reading and for your support.