The last ornament hiding on a lower branch of our Christmas tree had the biggest story to tell and made the melancholy task of its removal all the more so.
Our friend Trina gave us our “hope” ornament and I spotted it stubbornly clinging to the tree well after I thought I had taken down all of the ornaments. I even chuckled a little because it was so appropriate that my Trina’s ornament would outlast all the rest.
Trina, who rose to the challenge of a stage four breast cancer diagnosis with tremendous grace and strength, died on October 2 this year. The terrible irony of Trina’s death is that the cancer did not kill her. She wouldn’t let it.
Handed a death sentence, Trina fought back. She traveled back and forth across the country for weekly treatments at MD Anderson in Houston, Texas. She took advantage of holistic techniques and made dramatic changes to her eating habits. And when the breast cancer invaded her brain, she battled that back too.
During this extraordinarily difficult period in her life, Trina became a local celebrity. She launched the Trina Fund to help women defray the cost of cancer treatments. She organized her hundreds of followers into a group called Trina’s Warriors and urged them to pray for other cancer victims. She chatted companionably with all kinds of people, both in person and via the Internet.
Trina triumphed over her cancer and, for a short while, she enjoyed a relatively carefree life again. Little by little, though, death launched a second front and Trina began to slur her words and have trouble with her balance. Necrosis of the brain stem, a chance reaction to radiation, did what the cancer could not. Eventually, it killed her.
Sometimes we have to plow through a tremendous mound of sorrow to uncover hope. Thanks to Trina, I think I found it on my Christmas tree.
I hope we’ll all continue to support cancer research so heartbreaking battles like Trina’s will not be in vain. I hope we all find a tiny measure of the fierce determination to live Trina displayed, and that we use it to appreciate our own opportunities here on earth. And, finally, I hope we can keep our minds open to the possibilities that transcend us.
Because as I yanked the last string of lights off our tree this year, and I am happy to report that Molly witnessed this small miracle, I found one last ornament. The engraved silver star read “Believe.”
|It was tucked away so we could barely see it,
but eventually we found the hope.
|In the middle of her battle with cancer, Trina, left, and her
daughter Hillary, right, came to see Katherine in Madison .
|Trina fought her cancer with a sassy attitude and a twinkle in her eyes.|
|Trina was a beautiful woman who raised two beautiful children.
Below is her daughter Hillary’s video. Hillary was born a gifted
musician and her journey with her mother has given her music
extra poignancy, depth and beauty. Enjoy.