Mary Anne Marrone
Mary Anne Marrone - London Remembered Hero
I remember the call. I was leaving work and my sister called me saying I need to come to moms. She wouldn’t say why, she just kept saying come to moms. Finally, she uttered the word that nobody wants to hear, cancer. In February of 2019, mom was returning home from a normal day of running around. Out of nowhere, she got very light headed and dizzy, fell and hit her head. Very out of place for our mother, who was the picture of health. She ended up having a brain bleed and a contusion, was put on bed rest, in a darkened room, no screens protocol or eye strain for over a month. This was the beginning of a bed ridden life style, that was the complete opposite of moms normal routine. We always use to say she kept more busy once she retired, than she did as a full time Registered Nurse of 42 years, as a single mom who raised two children all on her own, as a volunteer at our elementary school library, even years after we had long graduated and moved on to high school and even college. She loved baking, desserts were her speciality, she was the “dessert queen” in the family, and wouldn’t show up to a family function, dinner, holiday, etc. Without a few different desserts in hand. Mom loved to knit. She would unwind after a long day at work, knitting away while on the phone, or watching tv. She would have a hand knitted dish cloth finished before the end of a 30 minute television show. These dish clothes have become a staple in every kitchen of the countless family members and friends mom knew!
Over the next few months, with follow up appointments for her head injury. A terrible discovery, she had a mass in her abdomen. I remember after we got the news that it’s maybe cancer, all we could do was wait. Waiting for appointments, waiting for scans, waiting for biopsy’s, waiting for test results. Holding onto hope, that it wasn’t cancer.
The day we went into the hospital to get the results from her first biopsy quickly became one of the toughest month of our lives. She was admitted. We still didn’t have a diagnosis at this point. Another biopsy and rounds of testing finally revealed our deepest fears, it was Non Hodgkins Lymphoma. The mass in her abdomen was so large and destructive. The doctors began chemotherapy. We spent 33 days in hospital that initial admission.
That summer, she showed many signs of improvement. Her only complaint was she just had no energy. Which was tough for her, she was so use to being on the go, everyday would normally be filled with activity. She loved to get out with friends, go for daily walks around the neighborhood, a regular social butterfly! A follow up scan after her first round of chemotherapy showed the lymphoma had responded but was still present, so the next step was radiation. Everyday, five days a week, for a month she would go for treatment. We hoped for the best, that the next scan would have the news we all wanted to hear.
I will always remember this one special day mom and me had near the end of November. It was one of her better times during all of this. She drove us out to go shopping. The agenda for the day was to find all the younger cousins (about 12+ of them) Christmas themed books! She loved chapters, so naturally that’s where we went. In little to no time at all, mom had piled one book after another into my arms. Picking them out, meticulously, making sure to get “just the right book” for each of the kids. Before you know it, we had been shopping for books for about an hour. Happy with our purchases we head on back home. A simple outing at first glance, but something about seeing mom take such joy in getting a small gift for the kids brings such a smile to my face.
More chemo was the next step, after Christmas and into the new year we spent a few more weeks in hospital with complications and more treatment. Mom put on such a brave face through all this, I don’t know how she did it. The incredible staff on C7 oncology during our countless admissions and appointments took such good care of mom, nurses truly are incredible people. Mom use to say nurses make the best and the worst patients. They all seemed to love mom though, many would just come by to say hello and talk with her.
In mid February, we were admitted for about three weeks. Fighting off a blood infection, chasing low electrolytes, respiratory issues, etc. The antibiotics that helped fight off the blood infection also made mom incredibly Nauseous. It was a constant battle of back and forth with symptoms and treatment, more symptoms and more treatment.
It was right after her birthday that she told us, she couldn’t handle anymore treatment. Her lifestyle of lying in bed, all day, everyday had become a cycle from all her symptoms and treatment. We prepared for the worse, talks with the out care palliative out reach team, talks of hospice and symptom management. She was so brave, and she wasn’t giving up, she was still determined to fight. She had a huge family and countless friends in her corner. My sister would take her to almost every appointment even if it meant changing her work schedule to do so. Moms sisters were there helping with appointments and bringing groceries at a moments notice. Mom was truly surrounded by loved ones, a very strong family unit indeed.
At the beginning of March, we all moved in with my sister who transformed her lovely home into a place to make mom as comfortable as possible. Walk in shower, the bedroom, bathroom and living room all set up to make moms stay as easy as possible. For a month, we had some ups and downs but mom was hanging in there.
This is when we watched the events of the coronavirus unfold from the news broadcasts. Another health concern for our already immune compromised mother. Having visitors come see mom slowly became a growing obstacle. Eventually becoming phone calls and video chats.
April 6th mom took a turn for the worse. Her pain had become severe, she started to take her palliative care medications for symptom management. Her nausea and pain could only be relieved from these heavy duty medications. Her disease had taken over.
On April 10th, our sweet dear mother passed away peacefully in her own home, surrounded by family. She fought so bravely, right up to the end. Taken far too early, she had only just retired four short years before, from nursing for 42 years.
“If love were enough, you’d still be here.”
Mom touched the lives of so many during her life. The countless patients, and coworkers she had over the years. The very close and loving family she was apart of. The beautiful home she provided myself and my sister with, that we grew up in. She was the most selfless person I’ve ever known. She sacrificed everything to make sure we had everything we ever wanted. She raised us alone while working as a full time nurse who worked shift work. I honestly don’t know how she even managed to fit in just a few hours for herself, just to sleep. She was the definition of “super mom” She loved to babysit her grand fur-dog Tucker! He spent more time with mom, than almost anyone else! Mom also loved to babysit many of her great nephews and nieces. Learning all about a new generation of cartoons, toys and games!
Mom was able to attend light the night walk last year, mama Marrones army will walk proud for her, and the countless other loved ones we remember who have lost their lives to blood cancers. She would want others to keep on fighting, to one day cure these terrible diseases.
We walk in memory of our beloved mother, a compassionate nurse, who never gave up. A loving aunt and great aunt to many. An incredible neighbor and friend to all who knew her. Light the night will not be the same without her, but we hope her spirit will bring hope to others. Together we stand strong, together we fight. Together we honor our lost ones.