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Bad Boob

Tara SparksMy cancer has a name. It’s stupid fucking asshole, or in medical terms it’s invasive ductile cancer.

I know it’s the most common.
I know it’s treatable, with little to no occurrence.
I know I will kick those five tumors asses so hard.

I know my husband and family are holding my hand the entire journey. Surgery will be before Christmas as the tumors are growing rapidly, per biopsy results. Radiation will follow as well as 5-10 years of tamoxifen & possible chemo.

I know I have a huge support with all you lovely, lovely fuckers, whom I adore immensely.

Thanks to all who’ve messaged, called, texted & sent cards. 💜

I’m accepting positive vibes, juju, candle ceremonies, laugher, prayers, food, monetary support, your love and above all support.

Peace and love. My friends. Be kind.
☠ xoxo ☠

‪#‎fuckcancer‬ ‪#‎badboob‬

~Tara Sparks

To donate to the Sparks family, please visit the Plumfund Hardship Page.

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F#ck Cancer

Heather SnowI had a last minute shoot cancellation on a Sunday in Denver recently, and because of the foliage and quality of light this time of year, I really wanted to be photographing SOMEONE.  It seemed like a crime not to be.. it’s just so pretty outside right now.  So I put out a post on Facebook:  Sexy Denver woman needed.  Let’s make some art.  (It was worded a little better than that, but you get my drift.)  I got so many responses that it was impossible to choose.  I wanted to photograph all of these women.  I don’t do well when given too many choices of anything.  Picking out a restaurant or a meal that I want takes FOREVER.  SO needless to say, by Friday evening, I was still going back and forth, but I had finally decided to go with the first person that responded.  It took the choice out of my hands.  That’s when I received a Facebook message from Emily.  To sum it up (poorly), it said: You should take pictures of Snow (aka Heather Snow).  She doesn’t know that I’m writing you this..As you know, she has Leukemia…I can’t think of anything sexier or stronger than Snow and her drip stand, Edward.  

AND.. Decision made!

Heather and I have been making photos together for several years now.  She is a super funny comedian & writer (read her blog!).  She’s six feet tall, and since her last name is SNOW, we took some promo photos of her as the Abominable Snow-woman a couple of years ago, as well as many different headshots over the years.  We always have such a great time shooting together–I’m a big fan.  She learned recently that she has Leukemia (it’s the craziest story.. seriously, read her blog), and has been in the hospital for the last month.  When I say she’s been in the hospital, I mean, she couldn’t leave.  Ever.  Even leaving her room was a huge pain (because her immune system was so fragile).  So, no enjoying the amazing foliage and light I spoke of earlier.  To sum things up (poorly again–for real, go read her blog..right now even..it’s so much better), She went through chemo treatments, lost her hair (after trying out a couple of awesome short haircuts), had a major drug allergy (that they couldn’t figure out) which produced a rash over all of her skin, found a bone marrow donor, and got her blood cell count back up enough so that she could be released from the hospital for a short time.  Which brings us to the present.  She is out in the world right now, trying to stay away from germs, and in official remission, which is awesome, because it means that she should be able to have her bone marrow transplant soon.  After which, she will be in the hospital again for another month.

Heather Snow 2When I saw Heather for these photos, she was two days away from being released from the hospital.  She still seemed blown away by all of it.  How randomly it came, how supportive people have been, how some pieces have fallen into place, how difficult it has been.  Her room was filled with cards and artwork, and fake flowers (she can’t have real ones due to GERMS/pollen, etc).  One of the nurses said that it is the most decorated room she has ever seen in that hospital.  A repeat phrase I kept seeing around the room was “Fuck Cancer!”, which seems like a pretty great mantra to me.  Heather told me a lot about Leukemia, and how it turns people’s lives upside down.  How if this had happened to her 5 years ago, she would have been financially ruined.  How people lose their jobs and homes, or don’t get good donor matches, and so end up being hospitalized for much longer due to complications.  Or die.  She said that all that she has gone through is kind of a ‘best case scenario’ (good insurance coverage, family donor match, her body’s response to the treatments).  Which completely blows my mind, because of how awful it all sounds.  I can’t imagine it being worse for people.  She was honest, blunt, and real about her experience.  Which is what I’ve always admired about her.  No filter.

Thank you, Heather for being both vulnerable & strong, by allowing me to capture these images of you during this time.  I think they will serve as an inspiration to those of us watching, people going through it, and to you years from now when you look back at what you fought and survived through.  You are such a bad ass, even in the way you are fighting cancer.  And that is super sexy.  You rocked this shoot.  I hope you are getting to enjoy even just a little bit of the foliage before your transplant.  Fuck you, Cancer!

**Thank you, Averi Trevino for doing the makeup, and for Seddy Gomez & Heather Cameron for recommending her!

~Crystal Allen

To read more about Heather’s story, please visit: Sixfeetofleukemia.com

To donate to the Heather Snow Family Fund, please visit: Give Forward

Dine For A Cure

ScreenshotComedians for Cancer is teaming up with the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society for a charity event to honor 11 year old fifth-grader Alec Kazandjian who is currently battling leukemia, and is being organized by his parents, Janet Tsu, and Man of the Year candidate Hakop Kazandjian. The event will take place on June 5th, 2015 from 7pm-11pm at Indian Spring County Club, S Elmwood Road Marlton, NJ 08053.

If you’re a comedian and would like to perform at this event, please contact Comedians for Cancer directly at ComediansForCancer@gmail.com.

For more information regarding this event, please contact:

Janet Hsu

Project Director
Data & Recruitment Manager
University of Pennsylvania
Center for Health Behavior and Communication Research
3535 Market Street, Suite 520
Philadelphia, PA 19104
Telephone: 215-573-9209

 

Read Alec Kazandjian’s story HERE.

 

MOY

On The Ball

Christopher WaldropHere’s how it was supposed to happen:

The doctor would call my wife and I into his office, which I imagined would be a wood-paneled room lined with books. Maybe there would be a potted plant on the desk, and some pictures. He would rest his elbows on his desk and fold his hands, and, quietly and soberly, say, “Mr. Waldrop, I’m afraid you have cancer.””

And I would say, ”I’d like a second opinion.”

At this point I expect he’d start looking through a list and saying something about referrals, and I’d have to stop him and say, “Doc, you’re supposed to say, ‘And you need a haircut.’”And I would have to explain to him who Henny Youngman is, because they don’t teach the important things in medical school.

Here’s how it did happen:

I’d been in for an appointment about an ongoing pain in my leg. This had lasted a couple of months, and I was tired of it waking me up at night. While he was telling me to turn my head and cough my doctor noticed some other things that concerned him, so he ordered some tests, including an ultrasound and a CT scan. Some other doctors might not have taken the time or been concerned, but he didn’t see any need for delay. My wife and I were on our way home from those tests when the doctor called my wife’s cell phone. In fact we were two blocks away.

“Chris needs to be taken to the emergency room right away. He has a blood clot in his leg. Also he has testicular cancer.””

I know that if he could have had the sober wood-paneled office meeting he would have, but while cancer is slow blood clots have a tendency to cause sudden death. And my diagnosis would play a part in my treatment over the longest three days of my life.

So we turned around and went to the emergency room, where we managed to find a couple of chairs together in a corner. This was a Tuesday, and I would later be told that emergency rooms are busiest early in the week, maybe because it takes sick people a while to recover from their hangovers. After about twenty minutes I was called back by a nurse. We sat on opposite sides of a desk and I was subjected to a routine interrogation. It included taking my blood pressure, and being asked the following questions:

”Are you allergic to anything?”

“No.”

“Are you taking any prescription medications or drugs?”

“No.”

“Do you have any religious or cultural sensitivities we should be aware of?”

“No.”

I made the mistake of thinking this was progress. Instead I was sent back to the waiting room where, after five minutes, I was prepared to offer my spot in line, or at least cash, to anyone who could figure out how to change the television to any show not set in a hospital. Ten minutes later I was called back by another nurse. Progress! She took my blood pressure and asked me some strangely familiar questions.

“Are you allergic to anything?”

“No.”

“Are you taking any prescription medications or drugs?”

“No.”

“Do you have any religious or cultural sensitivities we should be aware of?”

“No.”

And it was back to the waiting room where a kid with green-tinted hair and bright green skin sat listening to a pair of bright red headphones. His problem seemed more urgent than mine, but he was still waiting when I was called back again. This time I was led to an oversized closet with a bed. I was given a gown to change into and a pair of socks with sticky pads on the feet. A few minutes later a nurse came in to take my blood pressure and ask a surprising series of questions.

“Are you allergic to anything?”

“Belgians.”

“Are you taking any prescription medications or drugs?”

“Just baby aspirin and PCP.”

“Do you have any religious or cultural sensitivities we should be aware of?”

“As a Mayan I believe the world ended in 2012.”

The word ”smartass” is now a permanent part of my medical records.

My chest and stomach were then covered with stickers attached to wires that went to a machine that measured my breathing, heart rate, eye color, measurements, pet peeves, favorite television station, turn-ons, turn-offs–—everything, in fact, except my blood pressure, which a nurse would have to come and check every four hours.

Since I was staying in a teaching hospital I was also visited by groups of approximately twenty-seven people in lab coats, all of whom politely asked if they could examine me, which meant hiking up my gown and acting like it was our third date. I haven’t been naked in the presence of so many people since high school gym class, but I didn’t complain. Unlike dodgeball I knew I had a good chance of beating this cancer, and Dr. Coldfinger and Co. were stepping up to be part of my team. I was going to make their job as easy as possible. Maybe I got a little too comfortable. Every time the door opened I hiked up my gown, only to have one person say, ”Whoops, wrong room!”

Apparently ”if you’ve seen one you’ve seen ‘em all” doesn’t apply for certain regions.

I was also visited by a nice young doctor who asked me if I wanted to be listed as DNR–—Do Not Resuscitate. The question set me back a bit. I was certain of my answer. If it was an option I wanted to be Do Resuscitate, Please! It was just the reality settling in. I hadn’t been in a hospital as a patient in thirty-nine years, when I was treated for a condition that, ironically, was a risk factor for the cancer I now had. I’d known I was going to end up in the hospital again eventually. I just didn’t expect to be facing questions of life and death quite so soon, or so suddenly.

That evening I was taken for a spin around the hospital by a nice orderly named Leonard. He was taking me for another ultrasound at eleven thirty at night, and I’m pretty sure he was taking me around the entire hospital just for fun.

In a strange and half-lit room I was gooped up and given another ultrasound in search of the deadly blood clot, which declined to make an appearance, then sent back to the closet for a shot of blood thinner, which the nurse assured me would be “just like a mosquito bite”. She meant one of those prehistoric mosquitoes, with a schnozz like an elephant. And then I managed to sleep, waking only to hike up my gown whenever the door opened, even though the nurses kept telling me they’d use my arm to take my blood pressure.

Later that evening I’d get up out of my hospital bed and go to the bathroom next door. For some reason the emergency room bathroom didn’t have a lock, so as I was sitting there trying to relieve myself the door opened. “Occupied!” I yelled. The doctor who’d opened the door was talking to someone–obviously his need wasn’t that urgent–so he didn’t hear me. He just stood there, one hand on the doorknob, with me exposed to the world. This would be the only time I’d have my gown hiked up that I felt genuinely embarrassed. Finally he turned around, said, “Oh!” and closed the door. I’ll never know who you were, doc, but thanks for the look-in.

In the morning I woke with heartburn, probably because I hadn’t eaten anything in nearly eighteen hours. I thought this meant I needed an antacid and maybe some breakfast. The staff thought it meant I needed an EKG, which meant adhering more wires to my chest. Two weeks later I’d still be washing off sticker residue.

“We don’t want to alarm you,” said the nurse, ”but you could be having a heart attack.”

The only thing I found alarming was that the way she put it could give me a heart attack.

Fortunately it turned out that what I needed was an antacid and some breakfast. This was followed by another shot of blood thinner from a slightly smaller mosquito, and then I was told I was being scheduled for surgery. The original plan had been to perform a biopsy, but the doctors decided that since the source of the trouble was in an easily accessible spot between my legs they’d cut out the middleman–—or rather the manufacturer.

Surgery meant being moved upstairs to a luxury suite the size of a double-wide trailer, complete with a private bathroom, shower, sitting area, refrigerator, and, right across the hall, a pantry stuffed with all kinds of snacks and drinks, from chocolate milk and sodas to yogurt, cheese, and crackers. And a nurse who was professional, courteous, efficient, and who, when she was done with all her tasks, sprawled at the end of my bed and told us how much she was looking forward to going home and having a beer with her country singer boyfriend. I would have loved a beer myself, but, almost as good was having someone come in and talk to me as a person rather than a patient.

Then she left. My wife left too. My wife had been the best source of comfort and stability I could have hoped for, and more. She had gone above and beyond necessity to take care of me, but I now I needed her to take care of herself. I needed her to take care of the dogs. And I needed to crank up “Take The Skinheads Bowling” by Camper Van Beethoven and dance around the room, which I can’t do in the presence of other people.

A week after my orchiectomy I would learn I had an embryonal some-kind-of-noma, with an excellent chance of being completely cured. And half of it was a yolk sac, which made it sound even more like an alien parasite. It was fitting. Whenever the subject of astrology came up a college friend of mine liked to say, ”I’m a Cancer, sign of the crab. I’m two diseases nobody wants.” This made me wonder what cancer had to do with crabs, so I looked it up. Ancient doctors found that tumors, when cut, spread sideways, like a crab. Cancer is of the body, but behaves like an invader.

The prognosis was in the future, though. Alone the night before my surgery I wandered down the hall to a spot the nurse had shown me earlier. My room had everything except a window to the outside. It had been twenty-four hours since I’d seen the sky. I’d been wired up but disconnected from the world. At the end of the hall was a window that looks over a section of Twenty-First Avenue I knew well. I could see the bar where I knew someone was playing pool. I could see the coffee shop where I knew someone was eating red velvet cake and laughing with friends. I could just make out the indie theater where I knew someone had escaped into the silvery darkness of a movie. The avenue itself was an artery pulsing with red and white lights, people illuminating the future. I had been all of them. I was all of them. I don’t want to be the heroic survivor who inspires others. I simply want to live.

The darkness deepened over the world below, but the lights brightened. I wondered if, in the months to come, I would still be as brave as I felt, if I would keep my sense of humor. I knew things would get worse before they’d get better, but I knew they would get better. The first most crucial step was taken because my doctor had been on the ball.

~Christopher Waldrop

See how to share YOUR story with C4C here.

The Inspiration Behind C4C

Myrle CapriaWhen my mother passed away from a brain aneurysm in her sleep 20 years ago, it was quite a shock. After all, she was only a few days past her 50th birthday and she had the zest of a teenager. She was also the glue that held my dysfunctional family together and somehow managed to keep the whirlwind of perpetual conflict from evolving into the type of disastrous tornado that leaves everything in its path broken and destroyed. Needless to say, her sudden and unexpected passing left a very large void in all of our lives. I’d like to be able to say I handled it well, but the truth is, I didn’t. I was already a rebellious kid with a huge chip on my shoulder, but her death turned me into a complete bastard. I became angry at the world, and instantly developed a very short fuse and total lack of patience with everyone and everything around me for quite some time. Life had already dealt me some really lousy cards, but I never allowed anything to get to me. Everything always just rolled right off. Her death, however, got to me. For the first time in my life, something made it through the seemingly impenetrable armor. I remember being very angry with God and not understanding how he could take away the one person in my life who knew me and loved me more than anyone else ever could. It took me a very long time to accept it and see the good side of it. How she passed quietly, peacefully, and painlessly. It wouldn’t be until 18 years later that I would truly appreciate exactly how significant that was.

My oldest sister was the strongest woman I’ve ever known. Much like myself, she was dealt some pretty lousy cards, and somehow managed to never show any signs of weakness. After my mother had passed, she gradually filled her void as well as anyone possibly could have. She became very motherly to both me and my younger brother, and much like my mother, she also became the glue that held our dysfunctional family together for the next 18 years. Every year on Christmas Eve we held Christmas as a family at her house, and for that one night each year, we actually resembled a functional loving family. It was something that was always very important to my mother, and my sister stepped right in and carried on that tradition for nearly two more decades. In August of 2010, we found out she had severe cancer in her lungs.  The doctors told her that it was so severe she was going to have to endure very aggressive treatments for a few months before they could even attempt to remove it, and that the impending surgery was going to be VERY dangerous because they were going to attempt to remove up to 80% of one of her lungs. This was the type of surgery that many people don’t survive through, so the months leading up to it were filled with enormous amounts of silent trepidation for myself and my family. I say silent, because she was so strong through it all, never once complaining about the relentlessly brutal treatments she had to endure, that none of us wanted to show her how afraid we were for her. Making matters worse, the surgery was scheduled for the week of Christmas, so for the first time in our lives we all not only knew we wouldn’t be sticking to our family tradition of spending Christmas Eve together, but also knew that there was a distinct possibility that we’d spent our last Christmas with her the previous year if she wasn’t able to survive the surgery. We all did our best to remain positive and suppress that thought and fear, but in the back of our minds, we had to prepare ourselves for the possibility.

SurgeryOn the the morning of her surgery, I remember feeling more anxious than I’d ever felt in my entire life. I’ve always been a man of solutions. No matter how badly something was screwed up, I always felt like I could fix it. Reality gave me a huge slap in the face when my mother passed away because it was the first time I realized that wasn’t the case. You can’t fix death, it’s final. Once again, I had to face the disturbing truth that there was something else I couldn’t fix… cancer. No amount of effort, determination, or inner magic could fix the amount of pain she had to endure, take away the cancer in her body, or ensure that she would survive her surgery. I spent hours and hours rotating between pacing the floor and dropping to my knees to pray to whoever could hear me to please let her be okay while I repeatedly stared at the phone as if I could somehow will it into ringing with good news. After what seemed like days, that phone finally rang. 17 years earlier when my father called me, there was a distinct shakiness to his voice that I’d never heard before. He was a very stoic man who never revealed any emotions openly, so just the shakiness in his voice when he said that one single word, my name, instantly told me that something was severely wrong. This time, when my brother in law said my name, there was a total absence of shakiness. After hours and hours of trepidation, that very first “Jamie?” when I answered the phone was like opening the flood gates and allowing every difficult emotion that was stirring inside of me to escape, as if I’d just been rescued from the depths of hell. I instantly knew she was okay and he hadn’t even said anything yet. Sure enough, he told me the surgery was a success, that she had beaten cancer, and that she was perfectly fine resting in her hospital  bed. I can’t even begin to put into words the level of relief I felt at that very moment. With Christmas just a few days away, the Gods had given me the best early Christmas present I could ever pray for.

Christmas Eve night was a little strange because it was the first time in my life I hadn’t spent it with my entire family, either with my mother, or at my sister’s house. However, I was still riding the enormous high of knowing my sister had beaten cancer, so that superseded the oddity of not spending it with my family. I got up on Christmas morning and spent Christmas alone at home with my son, and it was a very peaceful feeling. The phone rang, and when I looked at the readout I could see it was my brother in law. He was at the hospital with my sister, so I was looking forward to the call because I’d get to talk to my sister. I answered the phone with such enthusiasm, but that enthusiasm quickly turned sour, as once again, I heard the shakiness in that one single word. “Jamie?” I instantly knew something was drastically wrong. He began to speak, and 6 words later my heart fell right out of my chest. Those 6 words? “The cancer spread to her brain.” I dropped the phone, dropped to my knees, and completely broke down. If there was a polar opposite to the high I’d been riding for the previous couple days, I surpassed it by 3 or 4 galaxies at that very moment.

2011 was the most difficult year of my life. Many people believe that knowing in advance is better than losing someone suddenly, because you get to spend more time with them and tell them all the things you’d inevitably wish you could’ve said. However, after watching that horrible disease slowly break my sister down into a shell of herself throughout 2011, I’m not one of them. As I alluded to at the beginning of this article, it took 18 years for it to truly sink in how significant it was for my mother to pass away quietly, peacefully, and painlessly, despite the suddenness of it. For a year straight, I watched cancer just eat away at the strongest woman I’ve ever known until there was nothing left of her. It even paralyzed her from the waist down towards the end of the year, and shrunk her down into a completely broken and fragile version of the woman I always knew her to be. It was easily the most difficult thing I’ve ever gone through just WATCHING it, and I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy. Throughout it all though, she never once complained. Never once showed any fear. Never once admitted defeat or even weakness. Never once even mentioned the word pain. She was amazing. I spent the greater part of that year in denial. I kept forcing it out of my head that she would be gone soon. I had to. When a woman that strong goes through that much without ever once complaining or showing ANY signs of mental weakness, the last thing you want to do is hurt her by allowing her to see YOU so hurt. She continued on as if nothing was wrong, and by way of denial, I did as well. She was so strong that she willed herself to make it to one more Christmas. It was such a symbolic holiday in our family, and she wasn’t going to allow cancer to take away her chance to spend one more with all of us. By this time she’d become relegated to a hospital bed in the middle of her living room, and she was so weak she couldn’t even lift her head, but she was mentally strong enough to fight it off enough to remain cognizant for the majority of the day and evening. I sat at her bedside and held her hand, but I still didn’t want her to see how hurt I was, so I could only last about 15 minutes at a time before I had to keep making excuses to leave the room. I have to go make a phone call… I have to go to the bathroom… I need a beer… I forgot some of the gifts in my car… it snowed a little, I’m going to go shovel your walkway, etc. I kept saying whatever I could think of to allow me to leave the room, and then I’d go somewhere private to cry and try to pull myself together before returning.  It was bad enough she had to go through what she did, I just didn’t want to hurt her by allowing her to see how much it hurt me. I didn’t want her last days and moments in this life to be spent seeing how much “she” hurt the people she loved. She married her long time boyfriend, Nick, on New Year’s Eve a few years earlier, so she willed herself through a very symbolic Christmas, and then made it through the New Year to celebrate one last anniversary as well, before finally succumbing on January 7th, 2012.

She spent the majority of her adult life coaching kids and running her own cheerleading company, and in the process won countless National Championships in numerous age groups. More importantly though, she touched the lives of so many young people throughout those years, something you can read about in the attached Syracuse.com article written about her (below) at the time of her death. I wanted to carry on that tradition and legacy for her, so I created Comedians for Cancer in her honor, and directed it primarily towards children suffering through the disease. If I can touch the lives of even a fraction of the people she did with Comedians for Cancer, I’ll consider myself remarkably lucky. Everyone has their own way of dealing with the loss of a loved one. It was 20 years this past August that I lost my mother and I still haven’t fully accepted that, so I certainly haven’t fully accepted that my sister is gone now too in a little under 3 years. It still feels like I can just jump in my car and go visit her at any given moment, and I’ve even caught myself turning down her street when I’m passing by on numerous occasions out of habit, only to realize that she’s not going to be there. I take a lot of solace in refusing to believe that I’ll never see her again. I have myself convinced that her and my mother are together somewhere in a place I’ll eventually find myself as well, and that they’re both still able to see me and my son.

Below is the Syracuse.com article written by Sarah Moses that gives you a brief idea of just how influential and inspiring she was to those around her, followed by a couple videos I made for her. The first I sent to her while she was in the thick of her battle, the second I put on her Facebook page after she died, which is still open as a memorial for all the people whose lives she touched, myself included.

Jr team w Myrle.JPG

Central New York cheerleading coach left a legacy of love, caring.

North Syracuse, NY — Despite undergoing aggressive cancer treatments and being in a wheelchair, Myrle Capria-Curro made it to every cheer practice and competition to watch her students.

“Her whole life was dedicated to those kids,” said her husband Nick Curro. “She loved them like they were her own children.”

Capria-Curro, who has coached cheerleading for hundreds of Central New York girls and boys, lost her battle with cancer Saturday. She was 46. “Her passion was cheerleading and the kids were her family,” her husband said. “She was living her dream until the day she died.”

Capria-Curro coached for Onondaga Central, Bishop Ludden and Pop Warner teams, including the Mattydale Vikings, Eastwood Bears and Clay Panthers. In 1999, her dream of owning her own cheer company became a reality when she opened New Generation Cheer Elite All Stars in Syracuse.

In 2009, she created Powers Unite the Fury, which partnered with Core Athletix in North Syracuse in 2011 because she was ill. “She didn’t want the gym to close,” said her stepdaughter Nicole Curro-Devel.

Capria-Curro was diagnosed with lung cancer in August 2010 and underwent surgery in December 2010. A few days after surgery she learned the cancer had spread to her brain. Capria-Curro started using a wheelchair in November 2011 after the cancer paralyzed her from the waist down.

“Despite it all, she didn’t miss a single practice or competition until Christmas,” Curro-Devel said. “That’s how dedicated she was to the kids.” On average, Capria-Curro coached about 75 students at the gym each season. Boys and girls of all ages participated on cheer squads and in hip-hop dance groups. “She was like a mother to me,” said Mariah Goldsmith, 19. “She’s always been there for me and was the best coach I’ve ever had. No one could ever fill her shoes.”

Goldsmith has cheered for Capria-Curro for more than 13 years. She said Coach Myrle, as she was more commonly called, taught her everything she knows about cheerleading. Goldsmith is currently a coach herself for the Eastwood Bears. Nick Curro, who also coaches for Core Athletix, said his wife has won many honors over the years, including in 2005 when she was named one of the top five coaches of the year in the nation by the United Performing Association. The teams she coached also won several state and national competitions over the years.

“Winning wasn’t the most important thing,” said Kayla Champagne. “The most important thing was that we had fun in a family environment. She was always proud of us.” Champagne, 18, cheered for Capria-Curro for eight years. “She was always there for me,” Champagne said. “She gave me a second family and a home-away-from home. She would do anything for us.”

Goldsmith said it will be hard to go on cheering without Coach Myrle. “But I know she’ll always be there with us in spirit,” she said.

~Jamie Capria

 

 

In Loving Memory Of

Myrle Capria

Myrle

April 22, 1965 – January 7th, 2012

See how to share YOUR story with C4C here.

The Gift of Time

McNuttLast January, my mom passed away from end stage terminal lung cancer. From the time she was diagnosed until the day she died was less than six months, and during that time, she showed the same grace and strength she always had. She didn’t tell me right away that something was wrong. One day while we were talking on the phone, she told me that she’d had some routine blood testing done as part of her yearly check-up with her oncologist and that one of results was slightly higher than it should be. She’s had breast cancer about 15 years before, been treated with surgery, radiation and chemo, and beaten the disease. That experience made her realize that everyone’s days are limited, and to make the best of the ones you have.

She started traveling, and visited most of Europe, the Caribbean, Alaska, western Canada and the western US, and was in the middle of getting her next vacation plans made when she got the new test results back. Everything had been normal, except for that one result, so she needed some further investigations. I knew she was nervous, and when the results came back the she had lung cancer, she was really scared. I was visiting her and my father with my husband and kids around the time she got the news. She and I would spend hours talking every night after the kids went to bed. She’d be starting chemo, and she hated the idea. She didn’t know what the exact combination of drugs would be, and she said she didn’t want to. She’d known what they were when she had cancer before, and she said she’d looked them up online and spent hours reading about them and making herself feel even worse. She didn’t want that this time. As she put it, for her, “ignorance was bliss”. She started her chemo and got really sick, but she endured it because it was her best chance. She couldn’t have surgery or more radiation therapy, so chemo was her only option. She was trying to remain positive and even kept up with the planning for her trip. Things seemed to be going well.

The one day I got the call. The chemo hadn’t worked. When you hear news like that, you are in a state of shock and it doesn’t fully sink in at first. My mom, being the pragmatic sort that she was, was already looking into palliative care and other options. She was trying to stay upbeat, but I know she was having a very difficult time. I’d talk with her on the phone every day, and as time went by, she told me that she had accepted what she’d been told and was making the best of the time she had left. She and my dad would sit together in the evenings and have long talks about all the good times they’d been fortunate enough to have, and in sharing those memories, they both realized how much they loved each other and how lucky they’d been in the 49 years they’d been married. They were given a gift of time to say the things they wanted to say to each other but had always put off, thinking that there would always be time later. For them, there wouldn’t be.

She had told me that when they had first found out that her cancer was terminal, neither of them really knew what to say to each other, which I can understand. After all, what could you really say? As time went on, they reached a point of acceptance, and found that their good times together weren’t over. They’d still joke with one another. I’ll always remember my mom teasing my dad about something and him saying ‘yes dear” in a sarcastic voice. She laughed and said that she’d make a recording of herself nagging him so that after she was gone, he could listen to it whenever he wanted and that way, it would seem like she was still around. As odd as it may sound, I think being able to joke like that helped both of them.

As time went by, my mom’s health deteriorated and she was able to spend less and less time doing the things she loved. I knew she missed spending time in her garden, so every week or so I’d send her a bouquet of fresh carnations, sunflowers, or some other blossoms. She’d fuss over them, arranging them the way she wanted. I sent her a gift certificate for lunch or dinner at an inn about an hour away, and she and some good friends drive there in the early autumn when the leaves had turned color, which was something she had looked forward to every year. That was pretty much the last time she went anywhere, other than to see her doctor.

As the days went by, she got weaker and spent most of her time in her chair. She started needing more pain medication and palliative care and the visits from the VON nurse made sure she got what she needed. We still talked on the phone every day, and she would offer me advice about the different things I told her, and she’d tell me how she was doing. At first, we’d sometimes talk for over an hour a day, but as she began to fail, the calls got shorter, and she’d spend more time resting.

She hated the idea of being in the hospital, so my dad looked after her with some extra help form palliative care. She was able to stay at home until a few days before she died. I’d been quite sick and in the hospital myself and hadn’t been able to get down to see her for a couple of months, but I was finally cleared to travel a few days before that, so I was able to sit with her, talk to her, and hold her hand. My brother, father, and I took turns so that she would always have someone with her and not be alone.

She passed from this life surrounded by love.

~Jennifer McNutt

In loving memory of

Carol Coldwell

January 27th, 1942 – January 15th, 2014

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