The Story of Floffy and my Mother Before she Died2011-10-21 at 07:22 pm Blog RSS
This was originally written in October of 2007, one of several breast cancer awareness blogs I’d written then involving my mother, who died of breast cancer during Breast Cancer Awareness Month. I’ve updated the blog to reflect the amount of time that has passed.
I am going to tell you about a gal named Floffy. I’ll start with the basics. Florence lives in Scotland. We’ve been friends since 2002, have kept in touch in the cyberworld, and met twice in the real world. She’s a Star Wars geek, like me.
Why did I have an urge to write about her today? Well, this is Breast Cancer Awareness month, and my mother died of breast cancer seven years ago this month on October 19th. I have posted a few blogs so far this month about breast cancer, and about my mother, and I still have a few more than I plan to post over the course of the next week. I want to keep my mother’s memory alive, and honor her, as well as use her as an example of why early detection is so vitally important for the many women who find themselves with this disease every day.
See, my mother fought the cancer for two years, and she was beating it the first year. The first year was like Star Wars: A New Hope, and through chemo and sheer willpower and attitude, she blew up the Death Star, so to speak. But in the second year, it was like The Empire Strikes Back, with the cancer advancing forward unstopped like the AT-AT’s firing on Echo Base, and spreading through her tiring body like the Star Destroyers surrounding Hoth. She was terminal, and I, her caretaker, seemed to be the last person to know that she was dying. I was in denial, I realize, pure denial.
Oh yes, I was meaning to talk about Floffy.
Why in the world do I call her Floffy? Well, her name is Flo. Flo adores Boba Fett, the bounty hunter in Empire Strikes Back, and her nickname is Flo Fett. Something soft and warm, and huggable, like a puppy or a comfy pillow, is fluffy, right? And that’s why I call her Floffy. Because fluffy is as Floffy does. So Floffy she is to me. Capice?
In the spring of 2004, Floffy became involved in an event in Scotland called “A Race for Life”. The runners of that race first acquired sponsors who donated money to breast cancer research based, I think, on how many miles they ran, or the time they did it in. Sorry, I don’t recall the details. My point is, Floffy was involved, and was getting ready to run the race in the middle of the summer. She told me that each runner would run with a banner on their back, honoring a woman who had died of cancer, or who was still fighting to beat it. She asked me if I minded if she wore my mother’s name on her back, to honor her efforts to overcome the cancer. I was indeed touched, as was my mom when I told her what Floffy planned to do in her name. We were not only touched, but honored.
But then, as Floffy readied herself to run the race in the middle of the summer of ’04, tragedy struck. She was rushed to the hospital, to the ER, and learned that she had Type 1 diabetes. She was 26 years old at that time, and previously had no awareness of her diabetic condition. The diabetic attack so weakened her that she actually nearly died. Over the next few weeks, she built up her strength and recovered a day at a time.
But then there was the race. I had simply assumed that she would not be fit to run the race, and it was certainly understandable. But Floffy was having trouble with the idea of dropping out. She felt bad, she had made a commitment to herself, and to my mother, to run the race in her name, and she did not wish to back out of it. I assured her that I understood, that both my mom and I understood, and that Flo, while still weak and ill from her diabetic emergency, was in no condition to run the race; that nobody would ever expect her to, so she should in no way put herself in more danger or feel bad about it in any way.
She told me that she had dedicated herself to doing the race, and that regardless of her condition, she did not feel good letting my mother down, or herself for that matter. I stressed that she needed to take care of herself and take the time to fully recover, and that she was letting no one down at all. I told her that it was pure and simple: she could not run the race, she should not run the race, and nobody was disappointed in her for not doing it.
Floffy ran the race anyway.
Let me be precise; she did not run it, she was not strong enough, but she walked it. She fulfilled her vow by doing the only thing she could do: she walked the race. As weak, and sick as she was at the time, she did it anyway. She walked it, with my mother’s name on her back.
The race for breast cancer research was in August of ’04. My mother died October 19th of 2004. During the first of the two weeks she had been in hospice, I had talked about Floffy with my mom and her sister and brother. My mother had known of what Flo had done for her, but it was the first my relatives had heard of it. I can’t even describe how impressed, and moved, they were by the heart that is Floffy’s. At my mom’s funeral on the 21st, as I stood in front of the room to give the eulogy, I had Floffy’s photograph in my pocket.
This blog doesn’t even begin to describe how special this girl is to me. When we finally met in 2005 for a Star Wars convention in Indianapolis (SW: Celebration III), we exchanged the Floffiest of Floffy hugs imaginable. She may have an obsession over a space bounty hunter, but she has the heart of a rebel princess. From that day she was diagnosed with diabetes to this very day, she has had to give herself daily insulin injections, and she was struggled with her blood sugar levels. But she’s getting by and hanging in. And as the day of my mom’s passing draws closer, I can’t help thinking about Floffy and what she did for my mother, and how strong of a person she is.
May we all be fortunate enough to have a friend like Floffy in our lives.
^ My parents and I the day before my bar mitzvah. Below, my mom and I during.
Flo after the race, holding her medal:
^ Me and Floffy in Indianapolis in 2005 for Star Wars CIII.
^ Me and Floffy in Orlando in 2010 for Star Wars CV.
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