Theresa began to enjoy life again. After she added the extra side wheels, she called her bike “Wings”—very appropriate for Theresa because she loved to ride without her helmet, FREE, her hair blowing in the wind. In May 2005, she surprised her entire family when she rode five hours one way on Wings to a graduation party in Minnesota … and then home again.
In September 2005, on a ride with her motorcycle friends, Theresa wrote: A darn sweet ride. I was so happy when BB, the leader that day, did not turn to go home. I wanted to go on and on without stopping. It was a perfect evening and a perfect way to end the summer!
In spring of 2006, she wanted to take a trip to Texas to see her brother and his family again, but this time she would go in her car, so she had something to drive while she was there. Theresa drove 1,700 miles alone and planned to stay about six weeks. But her visit was cut short when her lungs filled with fluid, and she was rushed to an area hospital. She was having a lot of serious pain. Her older brother offered to fly down and drive her home. She refused and said she could make it home. She told me later that she was in excruciating pain as she drove back to Wisconsin.
Then she was admitted to the hospital again to have her lungs drained. Theresa started another round of chemo and scheduled another hair-cutting fundraiser for “Locks of Love.” Her beautiful long hair was completely shaved off for the second time. She never wanted to wear a hairpiece again. My sisters and I took turns to help her at home with medicine, self-care, meals, laundry, and cleaning. We made room for a hospital bed. Theresa continued to think she could improve and get back to healthy living again.
One night one of her sisters heard her say, “I’m not mad, just sad.” On what would be her last visit to her oncologist, she witnessed another big bump in the road! When he came in the room, he looked at her and said, “I guess there is nothing more we can do for you” and he turned and walked out the door. Theresa looked at Rosie, our nurse sister who was caring for her 24/7 by then and asked, “What do we do now?” As they walked out of the clinic, nobody would look at them, nobody smiled, said goodbye, or acknowledged their departure. It was a very cold, sad feeling for them.
A few weeks later, she begged to go to another clinic to get another oncologist’s opinion. I took notes on how he described her situation, “There is one more chemo we could give you, but you would have no quality of life at all. You would be sick all the time, and it may be less than 20 percent effective.” Theresa did not hear him. A day or two later she asked, “What did the oncologist say?” When I told her, she was quiet. This was not a bump in the road; this may be the end of the road!
She was getting much weaker, eating very little. Her family was coming to visit, including her brother from Texas. The September moon was full, and Theresa remarked how bright it was. One of her best motorcycle friends stopped by with a dream bundle—a collection of items that is considered sacred by some Native American cultures—to share with her newborn granddaughter, so they could connect in dreamtime.
When she left, I went outside with her to talk for a few moments. While I was outside, Theresa told her sisters, “I’m going home!” When I came inside Theresa looked at me and said, “Joyce, can I come to your house?” I said, “Sure, you can come to my house.” I knew she wasn’t going anywhere. I believe her spirit was letting go of her physical body, and I just gave her spirit permission to come to my house. A couple hours later, she was failing quickly. The family was called back to be with her as she passed. She was only 54. The following day, a good friend sent an email that said, “Theresa received her wings.” It was a picture of Theresa with her bike, and her friend had digitally superimposed angel wings on her. A beautiful way to remember a beautiful soul!
I feel deeply passionate about telling Theresa’s story to women who will listen and learn about preventive and restorative breast health. Theresa was a fighter and at some point, she must have known what was imminent, because she said she was coming back to kick butt. And I believe my butt is the one that she is lovingly kicking to continue to educate women about how they can heal themselves with self-love.
When I gathered all her information, I realized she had written her story. It was about old patterns that would surface again and again, about lessons learned and not learned. Yes, she had written her story, the part of her life that needed love.
An excerpt from my book.