Editorial: Cancer stinks, but heaven awaits
‘Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is…
A memorial service will be held Saturday, March 25, 2017, at 11:00 a.m. at the Moline Church of Christ in Moline, Ill.
Pink flowers and tulle accented her aquamarine-blue dress and wavy blonde hair, while her pink rose bouquet filled the house with its sweet scent.
In the living room, Annemarie Doyle married Brandon Lloyd, clad in blue shorts and a white polo. The newlyweds celebrated with their families, a few relatives, close friends and Annemarie’s four dogs.
Newlyweds Brandon and Annemarie Lloyd with Annemarie’s parents, Randy and Gabi Doyle.
The May 14 ceremony and reception dinner at an Outback Steakhouse pushed aside all thoughts of Annemarie’s life-threatening brain cancer.
Doctors diagnosed Annemarie, a senior at Harding University in Searcy, Ark., with Grade 4 Glioblastoma Multiforme, or GBM, in April and removed 95 percent of a tumor at a hospital in Little Rock, Ark.
Annemarie then returned to her home in Moline, Ill., and married Brandon. She plans to finish her degrees in interior design and psychology in the fall.
“This is without a doubt the hardest thing I’ve ever had to face,” she said. “I’m completely fine with doing years of treatment, I just want years.”
The newlywed couple cherishes each day they have together as they work through her treatments, await test results and arrange a larger wedding ceremony for December.
“There are a lot of tears on my end, and lots of hugs on his,” Annemarie said. “I’ve always told him he’s my comfort. He makes everything — school stress, friend fights, all of it — softer and more bearable.”
Brandon, 24, does his best to balance his new job and caring for his new bride. He plays video games to de-stress.
“It’s a struggle,” he said, “seeing her so heartbroken and scared (and) not being able to help.”
A MOTHER’S LOVE
Annemarie and Brandon commited to care for each other — in sickness and in health — before they took their marital vows, said Annemarie’s mother, Gabi Doyle.
“As I brush her hair every night with clumps coming out all over, I usually cry the first minute or so as quietly as possible so she doesn’t hear me, remembering when I would brush her hair as a little girl,”
“She was willing to let him go after the horrible diagnosis,” Gabi told The Christian Chronicle, “but he refused to leave and will remonstrate with her for even thinking such a thing.”
Family and friends surround Annemarie as she undergoes cancer treatments.
After the diagnosis, Gabi sang lullabies to her daughter over the phone as she lay in Little Rock’s St. Vincent Hospital. Since Annemarie’s surgery, Gabi said she struggles to stay positive.
“As I brush her hair every night with clumps coming out all over, I usually cry the first minute or so as quietly as possible so she doesn’t hear me, remembering when I would brush her hair as a little girl,” Gabi said. “But she says, ‘It’s only hair, Mom,’ and we push on.”
The family thanks God “for every moment together,” Gabi said, as they cry and laugh and binge-watch Netflix.
“We are only really at the beginning of this journey, but we have drawn even closer together as a family,” Gabi said. “We still have arguments, complaining and so forth because ultimately we remain flawed human beings, but it seems that the normality of our typical family interactions gives a foundation from which to continue.
“We try to live as fully as possible in each day, striving for normalcy and yet realizing that the old life is gone.”
BURDENS, TEARS AND PSALMS
As she battles cancer, Annemarie muses and posts her feelings on her blog.
“It helps me get out many of the thoughts that I don’t want to put on others,” Annemarie said of the blog, “because no matter how many times people tell me to ‘Just focus on staying positive,’ or just worry about myself, that’s impossible if you love anyone …
“I constantly think of what a burden this must be on all those around me, even though they’re carrying it so well in front of me.”
She sometimes feels “like I’ve married Brandon but possibly cursed him to be a widower,” she said. “It’s a hard burden to carry, but I wouldn’t give it to anyone else.”
Members of her hometown congregation, the Moline Church of Christ, have cooked meals, sent cards and provided transportation and support for both families.
Annemarie’s 19-year-old brother takes her to radiation treatments on Mondays and Tuesdays while Brandon takes her Wednesdays and Thursdays. Her 14-year-old brother helps Annemarie and their mother, who has mobility issues, on a daily basis and other relatives pitch in with rides to appointments and home-cooked meals.
“I’m just so thankful for my family — blood and in-laws — through this whole thing,” Annemarie said.
Her advice for others battling cancer, or watching a loved one endure it: “It’s OK to not feel strong, to want to cry all the time.”
Also, “stay active — draw, write, color, walk, drive, anything — and read the Psalms. You’ll cry, but in a misery-loves-company kind of way.”
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