Monday, March 14, 2011

7 Weeks Later~She’s Cured!

Dr. Lawton & Mary


The first time I ever spoke to Dr. Lawton, he said, ‘Surgery is a good option for Mary. She could have her life back 7 weeks from the day we remove the AVM.’

Last Friday, March 11, was 7 weeks from her surgery at UCSF. We had a post op visit with Dr. Lawton the week before. Her surgery was a complete success with a perfect outcome. She has been cleared to resume all of her activities. Mary is cured!

What words can be said to the man who has spent his whole career perfecting his work in order to save my daughter? I tried to thank him that day without getting emotional. He smiled. He knows how grateful I am. He told us he loves his job! What a success story for him. What a blessing for Mary. For us.

We gave Dr. Lawton a special message from Catherine, ‘You are a real hero to our family.’

Mary Had a Little Lamb

In the middle of her senior year, Mary became determined to get a puppy. We already had a dog! Rosie our golden retriever. Mary would be leaving for college 8 months later. Why would we get a new dog?!

Then she got Thomas on board. They researched and scouted the local animal shelter every day. Then they found a white puppy. A lab/retriever mix. The only white one out of a mix of 6 black puppies.

Then they sent me pictures~I melted. Or as Brad would say, I caved!

The first year of training Maggie was a huge ordeal. She was a challenge. But she became invaluable in 1 short year. She is a great running partner. She is an alert watch dog.

But most important of all, she has been a blessing to Mary in her recovery.

From the first moment Mary came home from the hospital, Maggie was calm and gentle. She knew she needed to be careful around Mary. She would stand or lay near Mary and stand watch. Mary spent many hours with Maggie next to her~giving and receiving unconditional love.

Just like all of us, Maggie had changed. And like us, she was better!


Be Prepared.

Our family is big on scouting. Brad was scoutmaster for 5 years and is an Eagle Scout Mentor in our council; Phillip and Kris are Eagle Scouts and Thomas is well on his way. My Dad was scoutmaster, and my brothers are scouts including an Eagle Scout.

Being prepared is not only the Boy Scout Motto, it is a way of life for our family.

I have evaluated myself over this past year. Could I have been better prepared to be the mom that Mary needed? There is no way you can prepare adequately for your family member to have a life changing illness. But I have learned so much this year:

~Staying out of debt will help you be prepared financially, in case you need to care for a loved one.

~Could you stop your current life to care for a family member full time, long term?

~Are you striving to have positive relationships with family and friends? It is key to have their support during any sort of personal trial.

~Are you keeping yourself healthy in case you have to help a family member in need?

~How is your faith? Are you striving to have a healthy spiritual life so that if you ever truly need to rely on prayer, you are already confident in your faith?


There were a few simple pleasures that helped Mary survive many difficult hours~walks on our trail~Maggie~movies~kettle corn~The Office~music~The West Wing~fruit~texting~soft blankets~Burgerville…

But the immense pain that she endured both after the hemorrhage and after her brain surgery, called for some big therapy. In both situations, during many difficult hours, we would talk about Hawaii. It helped to distract Mary when we would talk about future plans to go there and how much she would love the sand, sun, and the blue water.

While she was suffering through so much pain after her surgery, she reminded us about our promise to go with her to Hawaii. Before we even left UCSF, we began to make plans for a celebration trip.

One month later, we were able to stay in a co-worker’s rental home on the north shore of Oahu for a week. Mary invited Zane because of the significant role he played in her choice of surgery and his commitment to her successful recovery.

There could not have been better therapy than being in paradise together! It was a motivator for Mary in the days and weeks leading up to it and it has been a cherished memory for all of since.

Second Chances

Imagine having the chance to take nearly a year to focus on your daughter. To stop everything in your life and take care of her. Spend every day with her. And really get to know her.

I had a choice: This was an opportunity that I could resent, or embrace. Mary’s difficult illness gave me the chance to be the best mom that I could be to her. We have become close friends. We have a trust and love for each other that could only come about through such a great challenge.

I regret all the pain and suffering she has endured. And the year of her life lost to recovery. But I am so grateful for the year I had to be her mom all over again.

Mary & Zane

Merry Happy

Mary is able to spend some time in Provo. Zane’s wonderful parents invited her to come stay in their home. He flew out here one way and then drove with Mary 800 miles back to Provo in Mary’s Honda.

This wonderful opportunity allows Mary to spend time with Zane and his family, Catherine and Kris, and begin to adjust being away from home after spending nearly a full year recovering here.

She is taking 2 classes online already! So she is keeping busy with those. She has become a great cook and loves trying out new healthy recipes. She can exercise and workout! She can drive!

The goal is that she will be living back in Provo for the spring term and possibly even have a part time job along with her online classes.

Has this road been easy? No. She has endured more than I would ever be comfortable to share here. But she is such an example of courage and bravery to all of us. She ‘wears’ her scar like a badge of honor!

Mary has been blessed with a perfect outcome from a deadly illness. She defied all the odds against her. She faced her greatest fears and arose a champion!

There is still hope in our world. There is still strength in numbers~through your combined faith, prayers, and love.

Mary is determined to live Happily Ever After!


  1. So happy everything has turned out for Mary and for your family!

  2. Peggy, what an amazing post and such inspiration. I am so happy for Mary, so happy for you and the rest of the family. You are one amazing mom and you always have been - I have always respected and looked up to you!!!!