My dearest Laura,
I still can’t believe it. We were sent home from Aflac on February 10, 2011 – treatment was deemed ineffective and we were to prepare for the end - hospice. Your final 3 weeks of life were such a blur. I am stunned it all transpired so quickly. That first week and a half, it was all about living life to the fullest. You were able to see Cinderella’s castle at Disney World, be pampered with a day at the spa, and enjoy a wonderful dinner in Atlanta with your family. We also savored one more beautiful day outside with a poolside picnic as we soaked up the sun and watched the wind in the pines. On this day, I asked how you wanted to be remembered. You said, “Carefree, fun-loving, and a good friend.” You also requested that we play the song “Defying Gravity” at your memorial service. Then, you became very sad and didn’t want to talk about it anymore. “Later” you said. Later never came.
I watched with great sadness as cancer stole more of you away with each passing day. As your short term memory lapsed and your body weakened, you became more sad and frustrated. Despite your sadness, your fighting spirit never waned as you struggled to do things yourself - it was heartbreaking to see you concede that you no longer could. Dad and I helped you walk and we held you often. The last week of your life, I watched you fade more each day with each passing seizure. Paralyzed and unable to speak, I knew you were listening from the movement of your eyes. We listened to music together on your iPod and to your favorite shows on TV – knowing always - you were listening. Your beloved brother came home from college on the weekend to spend time with you, and promised he would return in four days. He asked you to hold on until he returned.
March 3, 2011
You had a seizure in the morning, making your lips turn blue. Then the seizure stopped leaving you exhausted. Your brother is coming today from Minnesota. “Hurry Eric”, I prayed, and you listened. When he arrived, you awoke and your features show a faint smile. For the next two hours, he held your hand and you both dozed. Two massive seizures then took your life as Dad, Eric and I tried to help and comfort you. I held you as you took your last breaths – just like I did when you took your first breaths - as I promised I would. After you died, Dad noticed that you had a radiant smile on your face. God’s gift to us - a promise fulfilled. You were now free. Free of cancer and pain. Free to soar and defy gravity.
We’ve chosen the spot for your memorial garden - in the woods, under the towering pines. As promised, there are fairy statues and lights in the trees on special nights. I still can’t believe you are gone and my sense of loss is profound. I know that you are with the Lord and your pain is gone, which brings me some comfort. A comfort that I hope will grow with time. I miss you Laura and will remember you always.
Laura Roush was afflicted with Constitutional Mismatch Repair Disorder, also called “Childhood Cancer Syndrome”, which predisposed her to developing multiple primary cancers in the first two decades of life. She was first diagnosed with colon cancer (carcinoma) at age 16 and then glioblastoma 10 months later. Laura fought a 13 month battle with both cancers, undergoing numerous surgeries, chemotherapy and radiotherapy regimens, and countless complications. Laura was born on September 30, 1993 and earned her angel wings on March 3, 2011. She was 17 and had earned 525 Bead of Courage.
CURE and Aflac were there for our family during our battle and beyond. Please support CURE’s mission with a donation in Laura’s memory.
- Dave, Anne, and Eric Roush