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P.O. Box 240
Purdys, NY, 10578
USA

Sammy & Nat offers a simple and soft 100% Pima Cotton baby collection. Shop the official Sammy & Nat online store. 

MARY'S MOM

MARY'S MOM

 

 

20% of all proceeds on SammyandNat.com will go to their GoFundMePage: Mary’s Mom.

SAMANTHA'S STORY
My sister, Nat, and I grew up in an old white house in a small town an hour north of New York City. My parents moved there from the city before we were born, knowing it would afford a better quality of life for a young family. My dad worked for a start-up, my mom was a midwife, and they commuted in and out of New York City as a lot of parents do in the suburbs. We had a golden lab, we had friends and play dates. We were happy little kids.

I was five years old, and Nat three, when my mom was diagnosed with advanced breast cancer. Neither of us remember much about it. We were so young, in our own worlds, busy with friends, at school, and certainly shielded from most of what was going on. After chemotherapy and radiation treatment, my mom went into remission, a miracle that lasted for about a year, before my parents learned that the cancer had spread. My mom didn’t want to go through the painful treatments she had endured the first time around and chose to explore holistic treatments. On October 9th 1991, when I was seven, and Nat was four, we lost her.

Our Mom and Dad after her Chemotherapy treatments. 

Our Mom and Dad after her Chemotherapy treatments. 

We had to get used to a new life, one defined no longer by ‘mom and dad’, but by ‘Dad and us’. Nat and I often talk about how hard it must have been for our dad to take on this responsibility alone, to keep things together in the face of his own personal—and our collective—loss; to remain positive; to maintain the structures of ‘normal life’. But he did. We also talk about how things might have been different had my mom gone through this today, with medicine so much more advanced and the illness so much better understood.  

Today, we still have the home we grew up in, although my sister and I haven’t lived there for some time, it is still a very special place for us. Our father spends his weekends in the yard when he is not with his fiancé, which abuts a reservoir, and an old stone wall that separates our property from that of our neighbors, Lisa and Eric, who moved in about five years ago. My dad has got to know Eric quite well, but even more so since learning that Lisa, too, is ill. He has shared a lot with Eric about our mom and what he went through and has been a support for Eric. Last month he shared their story with me and I couldn’t stop thinking about it. I wanted to help. But how? And then it clicked, let me use Sammy and Nat - the company I started – as a platform to talk to people, bring awareness and to help this amazing woman and her family.  

 

LISA’S STORY

Eric, Lisa, Dean and Mary.

Eric, Lisa, Dean and Mary.

Mary is the rosy-cheeked, blond-haired 25-month-old baby girl of Lisa and Eric. She has an older brother, 16-year-old Dean, Eric’s son from a previous relationship. Lisa and Eric lead a simple, but happy life, making the best of limited resources. Their biggest dream has been to give Mary and Dean a little brother or sister.

Last summer, however, Lisa’s life changed in a day. What was supposed to be a routine visit to the doctor for what she assumed was a swollen neck gland led to a series of tests that confirmed it as a lymph node, a classic symptom of Hodgkin’s lymphoma - Lisa was in Stage Three. The revelation was a blow, testing everything they knew and hoped for.

Hodgkin’s lymphoma is one of the two most common cancers of the lymphatic system. While the prognosis for the illness is improving, it requires, like any cancer, a rigorous program of treatments, many of which have significant side-effects, and some, lasting consequences. Beyond the obvious physiological impact, cancer takes its toll in other ways, rarely affecting only the patient. Almost every cancer works from a core, through the patient, moving outwards and touching the world around and beyond. Anyone who has encountered cancer, whether directly or indirectly, knows the enormous demands it makes on individuals, families, and communities, and at multiple levels.

Lisa and Mary

Lisa and Mary

Lisa knew she was set for a fight, but not one more complicated than foreseen. The obligatory lung and heart tests that precede chemotherapy revealed fluid around Lisa’s heart. She was sent straight to cardiac ICU at Westchester Medical Hospital, where, over the course of a week, the fluid in her chest cavity was drained by needle every six hours, so as to limit the potential of a shock reaction. When Lisa left hospital, she then learned from her doctor that undergoing chemotherapy would reduce her chances of having children to less than one per cent because of the inevitable damage to her eggs. For Lisa and Eric, this was devastating news that presented a harsh choice: treat Lisa’s illness or have another child.

Mary and Lisa

Mary and Lisa

 

Torn and heartbroken, Lisa and Eric opted for what seemed to them the only viable solution: a hugely costly fertility process that would culminate with the harvesting of Lisa’s eggs for freezing and use at a later date. So Lisa went back to hospital to begin the grueling 12-day course of morning and evening fertility injections, ultrasounds, and doctor consultations. By mid-October, when her eggs had been harvested, it was time for the chemo to begin: another grueling program, this time 16 treatments over a six-month period, which has not been without its ups and downs. The second treatment saw Lisa back in hospital again with severe dehydration and low phosphate levels. The fourth treatment led to a biopsy in response to abnormal activity in her spleen; luckily, the result was benign.

Lisa takes one day at a time. New structures in her life have become the norm. Her weeks are punctuated with treatments and doctor appointments. She had to give up her business.  Fatigue is a constant, sometimes manageable—she feels almost normal—and sometimes overwhelming—she can’t get out of bed. But her greatest effort goes into staying positive for Mary, Dean, and Eric, who have provided ceaseless, unqualified support and love. Lisa is also lucky enough to have parents who help with Mary, so that Eric can keep on working and Lisa can get the rest essential to recovery.

Besides the obvious emotional struggles and fear that surround cancer, there are so many additional drains that are not always as apparent to the outside world. How does the family keep going? How does dad do his job and look after the kids? What happens when you’re alone, with no support? What about lost income? And bills? The biggest stress for Lisa’s family is financial. Because only a percentage of the treatments and medications needed by Lisa are covered by insurance, they live in the shadow of astronomical medical bills. And the decision to undergo fertility treatment was completely out of pocket. But what would you do, given that same decision? Relinquish your dream of growing your family, or find a way to cling on to the hope of making it happen?

I’m moved by Lisa’s story, not just because she’s a neighbor and a friend, a woman struggling with adversity on multiple fronts, always with optimism and a smile on her face; or because she happens to be going through what I watched my own mother go through twenty years ago, and feel it viscerally; or because it just doesn’t seem fair that this should happen to a young mother with so much to give and so many plans to realize. I’m moved because I empathize—and because I think I can do something about it. It doesn’t take much to make a difference to someone in need, by easing the pressures as they struggle to make it to the other side of the challenge life has thrown them. 

Samantha, Mary and Lisa

Samantha, Mary and Lisa

I have faith that when you ask for help, you will receive, and so I am reaching out to you. Please help Lisa! Help her get the treatments she needs, so that little Mary grows up knowing her mommy, so that Lisa, Eric, Dean and Mary can put this challenge behind them and move on towards a brighter phase, and who knows, maybe even a bigger, stronger family.

xo SAMANTHA

 

20% of all proceeds on SammyandNat.com will go to their GoFundMePage: Mary’s Mom.

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I thank you for all your support and PLEASE SHARE THIS STORY.

 

 

*FOR ANY PARTNERSHIPS TO HELP TELL OUR STORY PLEASE CONTACT SAMANTHA@SAMMYANDNAT.COM