Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Trudy Runnels - A Single Mom, Sister, Grandma, and Courageous Fighter

When Michele and I first started discussing our3-Day walk, we were extremely grateful that all of the special women we know who have fought the battle are survivors. Unfortunately, a very short time later, we discovered that Terry T. Pinkham’s sister, Trudy, lost her battle against this horrific disease. The story below came from information from Terry. I can't thank Terry enough for sharing details of Trudy's story.

About Trudy
Trudy Runnels, a 45-year-old single mom of four children, with two still at home, and a new grandmother to an adorable grandson lost her battle on January 10, 2010.

Trudy was first diagnosed with breast cancer in 1994 at the age of 29. It was a shock and it was devastating news, but with chemotherapy, radiation, a mastectomy, a fighting spirit and a positive attitude she fought it hard, overcame it and beat it. At the time, she was a single mother who had 4 children under the age of 11 to look after. In November 2008, she went to the doctor to see about a wheeze and a cough that wasn't going away with over the counter treatments. The doctor informed her of a dark mass in her left lung. With further tests and x-rays, they found that she had a grapefruit sized tumor in her left lung and a smaller one in her right lung. She immediately contacted the Cancer Treatment Centers of America and started traveling to the center in Tulsa, Oklahoma from her home in Dallas, Texas. Looking further and with more tests, it was revealed that she had stage 4 breast cancer that had metastasized to her lungs, thyroid gland, bronchial passages (left and right) and her brain. Even when battling the disease, Terry said Trudy was ALWAYS smiling and ready to laugh.

Trudy’s great sense of humor and fighting spirit was written about in this article dated April 2009: http://newsok.com/laughter-is-medicine/article/3360624?custom_click=pod_lead_life

Unfortunately, in August of 2009 that smile began to fade and the laughter that helped her along in fight also was gone. Terry said it was understandably so since Trudy was receiving daily treatments of chemotherapy and/or radiation, and was finding it hard to even get out of bed. Due Needless to say, Trudy couldn’t work and Trudy's oldest son Cody has quit his job to help care for his mother.

Terry, being the older sister by 11 months, felt the need to help look after her little sister. Terry held fundraisers to help Trudy and her family with the mounting medical expenses. Terry said it was very difficult for her watch helplessly “as the monster and the treatments necessary to combat it ravaged her beautiful sister's body and mind.” Trudy Runnels, sadly, lost her battle on January 10, 2010.

Terry is still coming to grips with the loss of her sister. When I asked Terry if we could walk in memory of Trudy, she responded so eloquently stating, “I am very moved just at the thought of you even remembering my sister. She fought so hard and had such a great spirit and I miss her so much. It is an ache in my heart that is at times almost unbearable.

It makes me smile, and brings tears of joy when I hear of anyone who has fought cancer and is a survivor. Those of us who've lived through any experience with that horrible disease, well...we live in a different reality...a reality that is an ever-present reminder that at any time, our lives can be turned upside down again and every day, hour, every moment that we have as living, breathing humans, is TRULY a gift. I am very happy to hear that you still have your mom after being visited by that most unwelcome entity...cancer.

Trudy's children will also be very grateful and happy that you will include their mom in your hearts along with your mom, when you devote that weekend and especially her 3 daughters will be especially grateful knowing the above mentioned sacrifices that you are willingly planning to endure :-) !!!”

It is truly stories like Trudy's that give me the motivation and determination to do something bold in the fight against breast cancer.

Blessings,
Heidi

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