Monday, February 11, 2013

2-11-13 Jennifer Wise Merendino

Meet Jen and her husband, Angelo

Five years ago today, this woman I never met, was diagnosed with breast cancer. It  was five months after her wedding.

I would have never known about her, never seen her beautiful photographs, if not for Angelo's chronicling their life together as she endured the typically hidden struggles of cancer patients and has begun to share them with the world in various exhibitions, through his blog, and on his Facebook page.  Merendino, as etymologies go, tracks back to mean something along the lines of "a little taste" and, perhaps fittingly, his photographs, too, are only a little taste of his life with Jen, of her strength and beauty despite the pain and sadness. Jen passed away December 22, 2011.

And I would never have found Jen's story if not for Ann, whose blog I found because of Soul Pancake, who I found because someone I know knew Ryan Woods, the first person featured in their My Last Days series. 

Through Ann's blog, I've found links to sign up for Be the Match which sends you an easy swab kit to add your marrow to the registry, in the small chance you could save someone's life with a marrow donation as well as for an email registry through Army of Women for breast cancer research trials in my area that I might qualify for. I find this method far preferable to anything related to Pink/Komen awareness simply because, the more I read, the less I believe any cure will ever come out of a dime of Komen money. That previous link was by another metastatic breast cancer blogger, Rachel, who died a year ago this week.  All the awareness in the world doesn't change the fact that it will not create a cure for breast cancers, and it appears only pennies of the dollars you spend on all those things slapped with a pink ribbon go anywhere to fund real research that might one day save the 40,000 women, the beautiful women like Jen and Rachel, killed every year by this disease.  

Also thanks to Ann, I found Vanessa's Live Sincerely Project,

Vanessa, too, was diagnosed with breast cancer, and is now living with mets in her brain. These women inspire me.

Her simple premise asks you to take the following pledge:

I will live sincerely.

I will learn from each person and each day on my journey
and will share ideas and wisdom from my own experiences.

With a grateful spirit, I will acknowledge my need for others
and will in turn be loving and generous,
remembering that every member of a community plays a unique role.

I will remain strong in my convictions
while keeping an open mind to perspectives beyond myself.

Courageously, I will respect each movement of my heart,
through fear and joy, grief and peace.

I will cultivate my passions with delight
and also take time for honest introspection.

I will love the person I am today
while constantly striving towards my best self.

I will keep a healthy balance between the rewards of discipline
and the growth and wonder that spontaneity brings.

I will acknowledge both the marvel and the limitations of my body
and respectfully take care of it the best I can.

Accepting the reality that there are circumstances I cannot change,
I will seize my power to actively change that which I can control
with hope and creativity.

I commit to living each chapter of my story:
honoring the lessons and gifts of my past,
fully participating in the fleeting beauty of the present,
and bravely walking towards the unknowns of my future.

Knowing that life is an enduring but glorious struggle,
I pledge to live each day with purpose.

I will live sincerely.


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