Becky's personal story
I tried multiple times to start my story. I want to explain about Amy, but nothing seems to come close to properly explaining the vibrant force that was my big sister.
She was bright and shiny. She was a mother-hen, hard-headed, stubborn, the consummate oldest sibling. She was bossy and nosy and one of the best friends a person could have. She was a much loved nurse and colleague. She was a mother who spoiled her children rotten. She took them everywhere—museums, parks, birthday parties. For her, every day was a cause for celebration. There does not exist a traditional holiday that she didn't love and celebrate and embrace fully. She lived every second of her life, squeezing from it the last drop of enjoyment possible.
She laid on the sunbed sometimes two times a day when she was in her teens and early 20s. She was never without a tan for years. She was first diagnosed with melanoma in 2000, just before her oldest son turned 2. She had her spot removed and flew through her follow-up treatments. She had a second son, got a divorce about 4 years later, and took up body building where she met the father of her third child, a daughter.
When her daughter was barely 3 months old, Amy found a bump. This bump was not on her neck like the first one 12 years prior, it was on her scalp. After this diagnosis she married the father of her daughter, kept working and kept body building. So I was quite surprised to see her on Thanksgiving of 2013 looking a bit rough around the edges. She slept and stayed quiet more than usual. It wasn't until December, though, that we discovered that none of the treatments that had been working so well worked anymore.
By the time we saw her in March of last year, she had lost probably 20 pounds or more. By February she had to stop working altogether. She hadn't worked out in months. She was begging our mom to come stay with her. She could no longer care for her kids. Driving took too much out of her.
When summer rolled around my mother and I took turns staying with her and taking care of her and her kids. When school started, I took off to stay with Amy until the end. She progressively got worse. She had already shaved all her hair, the tumor on her head had gotten slightly larger. By then we knew her body was riddled with tumors and not all of them on the inside. Though she had tumors/spots on her lungs, liver, spine, brain, adrenal glands, and uterus that caused her unending pain, her exterior was not immune. She had a tumor on her back, on her head, under her right breast, and one under her left breast, though it wasn't as prominent. The tumor under her right breast became larger than her breast and when the tumor under her right armpit began to grow, her breast itself turned into a tumor. The huge tumor under her breast started to bleed constantly. We had to change her dressing two or three times each day.
I remember the last steps she took were to scoot down and reset herself on her bed. She was reduced to a bed pan, something that humiliated her to no end. She could no longer hold her cup of juice because she was too weak. Then she couldn't hold up her phone to message her friends and family. Her most despondent moments came when she talked about missing her babies grow up. She hadn't held her daughter in months. Cringed when her exuberant middle child came bouncing in to hug her. They were the light in her life and I believe her heart broke a little more each day when she felt weaker and more tired than the day before.
Amy died September 23, 2014, at home with her mom and her oldest son by her side. I had been with her every single day since August 15, and I was spared her last breath. She had lost her vision the Friday before she died and slipped into a restless sleep that Saturday night that lasted until Sunday night, at which point she started asking for our mom and younger sister. When our younger sister arrived, they spoke briefly and I don't believe Amy had another coherent word for any of us.
Amy was a bright and shiny person and when she died, the light in my life that was her was extinguished and this world has never been as bright and shiny as it was with her in it.