For those of you who may not follow the GoFundMe.com site for Derek and Teresa.
An update and thank you from our friends Derek and Teresa.
Our Guardian Angels,
Over the last two weeks, Teresa and I have been privileged — profoundly moved — to look generosity in its face. You have redefined friendship in a manner so stunning, we haven’t been able to wrap our minds around the meaning. All we know is we are uniquely lucky and truly blessed to have this financial gift from each of you. It means peace of mind during a circumstance that strips it. It means security during a period that steals it. And it facilitates hope while our uneven odds squeeze it. It also means we will spend the rest of our long lives committed to being better people, better friends, and determined to pay it forward.
Simply, thank you. You have made our lives immeasurably richer. And I’m not talking about the money.
Teresa saw this page for the first time in the waiting room of her first chemo session, nervously thumbing her iPhone. “What’s this,” she gasped, showing me a tally that read $5,035 dollars raised by 29 donors. The GoFundMe site, along with the heartwarming blog on heatherbirdphotography.com, transported Teresa’s fragile thoughts from cancer to courage, from medicine to memories, and from the hospital to our astonishing support network. We didn’t check the fundraiser site until the next day. The numbers had quadrupled.
We will never be able to properly thank all of you whose words and warmth give our family the daily strength to forge forward. Thank you for allowing us to reconnect, and to re-imagine friendships first formed in high school — or earlier. Thanks to the St. Joseph community, the JCC community, our Salt Lake Tribune stalwarts and journalism friends. Thanks also to each college connection, every roller derby teammate, and anyone motivated to contribute who doesn’t even know us. You’ve built a cradle for Teresa, me, Rourke and Emelia. When days get dicey, we will use it.
Breast cancer came calling today, when Teresa combed clumps out of her hair. Our doctors told us to prepare, but how is that possible? How do you mask disease when the mirror and shower are daily reminders? How do you blend when your appearance solicits stares? Yet my wife powers on with her brave smile and eager eyes. She returned to work to teach the children she adores. She feels most alive in the classroom, surrounded by exuberance and wonder.
Overall, chemotherapy has been tolerable. Visited by waves of joint pain, hot flashes, mouth sores and fatigue, Teresa also has maintained high energy, a healthy appetite, humor and grace. The latter is her signature, which keeps me forever in awe. In the first 48 hours after her four-hour drip, Teresa enjoyed a sunset walk around Liberty Park, joined our kids inside City Creek Center’s DinosaurLand, and escorted her Midwest mother through IKEA.
But she gets the biggest lift from you. As our life’s order seemed to crumble, we discovered another foundation through family and friends. You are the rock that keeps us strong. You are the roof that gives us shelter. You are the will that gives us resolve. We will wear you like blankets.
Derek & Teresa