It started about 22 years ago. My life was going great, and I was so looking forward to the future.
I had an amazing woman in my life, a great career, great friends, and not a care in the world.
I had no idea life was about to be turned upside down, and I would never be the same person again.
Let me start at the beginning.
On my way to the softball world championships, I stopped by my sister-in-law's nail salon to help her with a new cell phone. I walked in, said hi to everyone, and made eye contact with Doree, who was sitting behind my sister-in-law.
She had this amazing smile and beautiful eyes. There was an instant connection; we both just looked at each other and smiled.
I set up my sister-in-law's new phone, and off I went.
At this time, I had no idea that Doree proceeded to tell the entire nail salon that she was going to marry me! My sister-in-law laughed it off, and Doree said, "I'm serious. I'm going to marry him."
It was the weekend after the softball tournament, and some of the guys wanted to get drinks at a bar in Park City. So I said, sounds good; let's go.
We walked into the bar, said hello to our other friends, and grabbed drinks. Then, we sat down and started reminiscing about our softball tournament.
There she was across the bar. It was Doree. We made eye contact, immediately walked towards each other, and started talking. It was like we had known each other for years; everything was so comfortable and easy. While talking, I discovered her sister was married to a friend who played hockey with me when growing up.
We left the bar together that night and were never apart from that day forward.
Life was fantastic, we had such a great time together, and she quickly moved in.
Her sister was pregnant and due very shortly. Doree was so excited to be an aunt, and she could hardly stand it. Her sister gave birth to a baby boy. Within a few weeks of being home, her sister was taking a shower when she collapsed. Doree called to let me know she was rushing to the hospital, and I asked her to please keep me posted.
When Doree called, she told me her sister had a brain tumor, and the outlook was not good. Unfortunately, It wasn't long after that her sister passed away. It was a challenging time for Doree (and my friend), and all I could do was be there for her.
Little did we know that our (specifically hers) lives would be turned upside down a year later.
Doree started having all these pains in her body. We took her to doctor after doctor, and they all would say it's just cramps or muscle aches. Here is some pain medicine
We went to another softball tournament in Las Vegas and shared a hotel with some friends. While there, Doree's pain was getting worse, so bad that she asked me to make a fist, place it in the small of her back, and then put all my weight (about 180lbs) into it.
When I did this, it relieved her pain.
I didn't understand what was going on; how could putting that much pressure/weight help relieve the pain?
Something wasn't right. We needed to get home, get her to the doctors ASAP to figure out what the hell was going on because no one should have to live with this intense pain.
We got home and immediately went to the hospital. They gave her some pain medicine to relieve the excruciating pain and started running all kinds of tests. I had to go to work, but her mother was with her.
I did my best to concentrate at work, but all I could think about was when will I hear some news. Then, finally, Doree's mother called. She told me Doree was being transferred to another hospital and to meet them there. She wouldn't tell me what was wrong, just that Doree wanted me there with her.
I dropped everything and headed straight for the hospital. When I walked into Doree's room, she was still in so much pain, but she just smiled and said, "I love you," and "I've got this."
Got what, I said? "I have cancer!"
I went numb, sat down, and started crying. She told me, "it's ok, everything is going to be ok." I asked what kind of cancer, "they're not exactly sure, still running some tests."
We waited patiently, and finally, the doctor came in, sat on the bed next to Doree, told her she had Rhabdomyosarcoma. It's a cancer of the skeletal muscles, which explains why she's been in so much pain.
He said this cancer is very rare and highly aggressive; it's usually found in young children, and he was surprised she had it.
Her cancer was advanced. It was in stage four and had metastasized throughout her body. The doctor said the survival rate is less than 8%, and the treatment is very aggressive and not very successful.
I was devastated and freaking out, but she was so damn strong. She looked right at the doctor and said: "let's get started with the treatment." I was doing my best to stay composed; it was not easy, but I had to stay strong for her.
Doree looked at me and said, we still have our whole life ahead of us. I will do whatever it takes to beat this!!
She started treatment right away, fought her ass off for 11 months, with me, right by her side every step of the way before she passed away in my arms.
As I reflect on those 11 months, it's not the tough times I remember, and there were plenty of them; it's the good times.
During all the ups and downs of treatment, this woman was always positive and had an incredible sense of humor.
One night, I was lying in our bed, she was in the hospital bed right next to me (she had to be in that bed because she was hooked up to all kinds of machines), we were holding hands through the metal rails.
I had fallen asleep, and she woke me up asking for pain medicine. I went to the refrigerator (which was full of all kinds of medicine). I was exhausted and could hardly function, but I managed to load the syringe and gave her the medicine through a pick line.
Immediately after I gave her the medicine (a pick line goes right into the bloodstream), I knew something was wrong when her eyes rolled back into the back of her head.
Oh shit! I realized I had just given her three times the dose I should have. Now I was wide awake and scared to death.
I called the nurse's desk (on call 24hrs a day). They said to go to your refrigerator, grab this (can't remember the name) medicine, and give her this dose, and it will reverse the effect of the pain medication.
As soon as I did that, she woke up, then calmly looked at me, and said: "honey, the cancer is already killing me; it's doesn't need your help." I was crying because I felt so bad, yet she cracked a joke and smiled at me.
We never did get married. We were engaged, but due to her health, we were never able to get married.
This woman and experience changed my life forever! I will never forget when she said: "you made me want more out of life, and I've made you want less." She wanted more of everything. I wanted less of everything; we both just wanted more time.
This is when I truly learned; time is the best gift you can give anyone because it's something you can never get back whenever you give it to them.
I encourage you to spend your time with the ones you care about and love.
I appreciate you taking the time to read my post.