Today is my sister Nancy’s birthday. If you are old enough to remember, Frank Sinatra sang a song about his daughter Nancy. It was called “Nancy, with the laughing face.” That was my sister. She was always smiling and making jokes – and she had little reason to laugh.
Nancy was born with a lung disease called Cystic Fibrosis, but at that time the disease was not yet named. My parents were told that she had asthma and that’s what we all believed to be true. Nancy’s breathing at times was labored and when she became upset, she could become sick. I was actually jealous of Nancy when we were told that we could not leave the table until we finished (whatever it was) and then she would begin to gag and toss up whatever we were being “forced” to eat. “Gee” I wondered, “How do you do that?” because I always had to stay at the table and eat, while Nancy was excused.
We did not know that Nancy had CF until she was about 15. Until that time, her ENT (ear, nose and throat) doc was treating her for sinus problems! For the record, he never spoke to us after Nancy was tested for, and diagnosed with, CF. I really never forgave him for that.
Back to Nancy. She was not supposed to have children because it was too much of a risk. But for Nancy, not having kids was a much greater risk. I am sure that she wanted to leave a legacy because she knew that her time here was limited. She raised two boys, Jimmy and Wayne, and they were her reason for living. She was so proud of them… and I think now I know that she knew she would live on through them.
The last time I talked to my sister she told me a joke: A woman goes to the doctor and says,”Every time I sneeze I have an orgasm.” And the doctor replies, “And what are you taking for this?” and the woman replies “Pepper.” It was so like her to make me laugh at a difficult time – for Nancy was getting ready for a blood transfusion. And, unfortunately, it was too much for her ravaged body to handle. At the young age of 34, we lost Nancy.
One of her doctors asked my sister and me if we would consider donating Nancy’s eyes – for they were not damaged by her disease- and could help someone see. One solace in losing Nancy, is knowing that someone has gained their sight. And if they also had Nancy’s eyes, they would be beautiful.
Today, in honor of my sister Nancy, I brought an Apple Pie to the Pulmonary Consultants of Medford, for they help people who have Cystic Fibrosis. I wanted to thank them for helping their patients who are suffering. It is my fervent wish that this disease be eliminated.
My sisters Janice, Nancy and Me