Jan 17, 2012
My sister was the strongest person I know, when she was a toddler her mother put her in a fireplace and poured oil on her, my sister was burned from head to toe, her entire body was permanently scarred, she was taken to a brand new burn hospital in Texas where my parents heard about her story, they flew down to Texas and adopted her (my parents have adopted 7 of their 11 children) the dr's did many surgeries to make Cari's life easier, she has no fingers, the dr's managed to give her thumbs so she could grasp things, they did skin grafts from the parts of her body that were not as badly damaged in the fire, she lost all but patches of her hair, for years she wore hats and wigs, the scarring on her legs and feet was so bad she walked on tip toes all her life, eventually walking like that made her hips rotate to a different angle, so when she went to the dr's a few months ago with pain in her hips they did an x-ray and told her that her hips where out of line and that physical therapy would help fix them and take the pain away, little did they know, the pain she was having was caused by a tumor in her pelvis. When Cari was 16 she found a lump and went to our parents saying she thought she had cancer, they took her to see the dr. It was cancer, they did a surgery and removed it, it was Melanoma, then right before her 18th birthday she found another lump just inches from where she had found the last one, they did another surgery and removed it as well, they also used radiation, a few weeks later it came back again, and again they did surgery to remove it. She spent her 18th birthday in the hospital, every time they did a surgery they would have to do a skin graft, last November she had cancer yet again, her daughter who was 1 at the time stayed with me and my husband and my 1 year old son, I took Noirin to visit Cari at the hospital every day until they let her go home, Noirin is a very strong little girl. Less than a year goes by Cari has pain she goes to the hospital they tell her it's her hips, all they did was an x-ray, (she has a history of cancer! why would they only do an x-ray?!) she was taking pain killers and swelling reducers and she was doing physical therapy but the pain was getting worse, one of my brothers went to stay with her to help her and her daughter. One night Cari was in so much pain my brother Danny called our dad and said "I don't know what to do she's in so much pain, please come and take her to the hospital, my parents took Cari to Harrison hospital in Silverdale, where a scan was done, they told her she had a large mass in her pelvis that was wrapped around her spine, she was airlifted to harbor view hospital, where they did a lot of painful tests, they told her they could not remove the mass with surgery but they might be able to get it to shirk with radiation, they let her come home on Christmas eve, she was using a walker and needed a lot of help. It was a very sad Christmas. Her legs and feet and pelvis where swollen to twice the normal size. a week or so later, the dr's called to tell her that her cancer was back and that it had spread, not only was the tumor cancerous but she also had a tumor around her collar bone and all of her lymph nodes had cancer, The dr's told her they could do radiation, so they tried but with the mass getting bigger Cari could no longer lay flat, so they couldn't do the radiation, a day or so later they called her again to tell her that and that the cancer had spread to her blood, and was spreading to her heart and her brain. A house dr started visiting Cari at home, and on Tuesday Jan 10th she told Cari, that she needed to plan for her daughters future, she said "You have up to 6 months left". On Wednesday Jan 11th I went to my parents house to spend some time with them, then my dad drove me to Cari's house so I could spend the afternoon with her, when we pulled into her parking lot we saw an ambulance and about 5 guys pulling a stretcher out of the ambulance, my dad yelled at them telling them that Cari needed a wheel chair because she can't lay down, we went inside the apt, my sister was on the couch crying saying they were moving her to hospice and that she thought she would have more time. The ambulance wouldn't take her to hospice, only to the ER, so we put Cari on the floor in the back of my dads SUV, I sat on the floor with her for the long drive to the hospice care center. she was crying and saying she was failing her daughter, that she's supposed to be there for Noirin and now she couldn't be there anymore, and she said she didn't want Noirin to forget her, then she told me she was sorry that she wouldn't be there for me anymore, I have a lot of brothers and sisters, but Cari was not only my sister but my best friend, when I needed someone to talk to she was always there for me. I think that was the point when it hit me that she was really going to be gone forever. We got her to the hospice, she fell asleep as soon as they got her in a chair, she woke up long enough to sign the papers giving dad the rights to make the hard choices once she could no longer make them herself, my brother and I had to sign as witnesses. I told Cari I loved her and I waved goodbye as I walked out the door, telling her I would visit her the following week, over the next couple days I tried to call her, but her pain meds where so strong that she just slept and ate, she could almost not talk at that point, then on Sunday Jan 15th I woke up to see a missed call from one of my sisters, the time stamp was 5:30am. I know that my sister Naomi had been spending the weekend with Cari, my brother called to tell me the day before that Cari no longer remembered Naomi, I knew the news was not good, even though the drs said 6 months I knew in my heart but couldn't voice it that I knew she wasn't going to make it to the end of the month, she looked so far gone. I started getting ready for work, my dad called at 7am to tell me that Cari had passed away that morning. Cari is the bravest person I know. she has had over 50 surgeries and fought cancer so many times, she dealt with funny looks from people, she watched mothers cover their children's eyes as they walked pasted her, she heard little kids tell their parents "Mommy she scares me" but she held her head up and stood strong, she raised and trained many horses, she rode in tons of shows she has almost a hundred ribbons, most of them are 1st and 2nd place, she enjoyed rodeos and country music. She raised a beautiful daughter and she left behind so many friends and people whose lives she had touched. Cari was an amazing person, I feel honored that I got to be her sister, and I hope that someday I can be half the person she was.