A Salute to Memom

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A Salute to Memom

Post by Commsman » Wed Feb 12, 2020 4:48 pm

A Salute to Memom (pronounced mee-mom)

A little over 6 ½ years ago, My Grandmother turned 90. In the spring of 2013, we had a huge family reunion for her to celebrate her 90s. Every single living descendant of hers with the exception of 1 grandchild was present to celebrate her 90th birthday. Notably, every single one of her descendants were still alive at that time.

It was a big formal(-ish) affair, complete with a country club, fine catering, live music, and numerous active military and veterans in full dress uniform representing the ranks of Sergeant, Lieutenant, Major, Colonel, and even a 1 star General! At first, Memom thought we’d just happened to pick an exceptionally busy Saturday afternoon at the club to have her little party. Memom was absolutely astonished when she fully realized that everyone was there for HER! Always unassuming, and just as humble as pie, she really couldn’t understand why there was such a fuss over her. She really just wanted a nice lunch with her kids, grandkids, great-grandkids, and a few friends. But all the kids and grandkids brought families, and though most of her friends had long since passed on, it seemed all the living ones were coming out of the wood work! And there were 33 Veterans from various branches of the military to make for a party well over 100!

You see, living veterans of WWII were becoming a big deal. At the time, there were approximately 1,000,000 WWII Veterans alive, but the numbers were declining fast. Younger Veterans and Active Duty soldiers were beginning to show up for events like Memom’s birthday party in droves to show respect and pay homage to these brave Men and Women of “The Greatest Generation” who served in WWII. She had told me stories of how a well-to-do young man from her hometown had proposed marriage to her when she turned 18, but she rejected him flatly because he refused to enlist and called him a coward. The very next day she marched down to the recruitment office and enlisted herself! She left her small hometown in Colorado to travel to New York for boot camp. Memom became an accountant in the Navy (as a Navy WAVE), and was dispatched to San Francisco where she met my Grandfather who ended up serving in the South Pacific in the Navy.

Fast forward 70 some years, and a whole bunch of people were making quite a big fuss over her in a small backcountry town in Florida. During the party there was a big ceremony to honor Memom, and talk about the achievements and sacrifices made by so many who were part of “The Greatest Generation”. Memom actually thought it was just too much as in her own words “she really didn’t do anything”. She was just a “paper pusher” and she thought that pretty much “anyone would have done just what she did”. She couldn’t even comprehend why on earth a “General” would show up at her birthday party. The General gave an absolutely terrific speech talking about how the war effort would have never been so successful without the millions of women who joined the military forces and work forces across the country doing all kinds of essential tasks such as accountants in procurement, routine administrative tasks, and women factory workers who built bombs, airplanes, cars, tanks, and even boats and ships. After the war, Memom continued serving by caring for (and putting up with) a veteran with a severe case of PTSD. My Grandfather had seen some of the absolute ugliest action of the war in Iwo Jima among other battles. My Grandfather died young from the alcoholism and cigarettes while in his 50s. The General did a fine job giving his rather inspirational speech about and for a little old woman. Memom seemed to take it all in stride, sitting humbly in her chair as everyone gazed as the general ended with a heartfelt “Thank you, Memom. Now would you please stand and prepare to be saluted?”, at which point Memom’s eyes widened and a look of terror crossed her face as she stammered out “No! You mustn’t. You can’t salute me!” At this sudden and unexpected outburst from the woman who, moments ago, had been so docile, there was an audible gasp that ran through the crowd. Looking quite perplexed, the General asked “Memom, what on Earth is the matter?” Memom, more stammering than speaking blurted out “But you can’t salute me! I was only enlisted!” at which point an immediate roar of laughter swept over the room! When the laughter died down, the general calmly replied, “Memom, we are all very well aware of that fact. Now stand and prepare to be saluted….. and THAT’s an ORDER!” After a very handsome Medal was placed around her neck, it is no exaggeration to say that there was not a dry eye in the house as Memom was saluted by the most heavily fortified country club for miles around.

I tell this story because it is a story worth telling. I tell this story on Imetelchat because it was only 30 minutes or so earlier at this very party that Memom informed me that she had been diagnosed with blood cancer. I believe that she told me then it was Myelofibrosis, but I couldn’t have repeated the name of her blood cancer even just 3 minutes later. But fate has a funny way of turning out sometimes. Nearly 4 years later, I nibbled on Geron as a momentum play. That was just before the first round of “Legal Investigations” in April of 2018. Roughly 6 months later, I finally put 2 and 2 together and realized Memom had Myelofibrosis which is why I became so interested in the Imetelstat story.

Memom drove herself to her 90th birthday party, and she could still fill out a Sunday edition of the NY Times Crossword puzzle in less than half an hour. With Jakafi, it took about 2-3 years before she became heavily dependent on Blood Transfusions and an oxygen tube. She lost the ability to drive, and then the ability to fill out the crossword puzzles. Her spleen became the size of a cantaloupe and her skin wrinkled and became almost translucent. She often had awful pain in her bones, but she’d have some good days and bad days. At one point, she fell and lost the ability to walk without assistance. She got in-home nursing for a while, but eventually it wasn’t enough. Fortunately, a wonderful little nursing home was able to admit her just a few miles from my Mom’s house. Mom stopped by at least 1 time every day and ensured Memom was getting the best medical and nursing care possible. Memom quickly became one of the most popular patients at the home as she was always pleasant, and sometimes downright funny. Mom even made sure she always had a bird feeder just outside her window so she’d have company and entertainment to watch outside. Eventually, it became obvious she wouldn’t achieve her goal of living to 100. In November 2019, a local chaplain that visited her from time to time decided it was time for another saluting ceremony. This time it was small, just 7 full dress veteran and active duty soldiers in full dress uniform. She was adorned with another medal and officially saluted by this company and many of her “roommates”. She passed away just 2 days later. It is estimated that there were only about 300,000 WWII veterans still alive when she passed. I don’t know if angels exist in the afterlife, but if there are, then surely Memom’s soul is a beautiful bright angel now. But I can say this without any doubt, Memom’s memory alone is a bright angel that shines hope on me and gives me strength any time I need it. Memom, I salute you now and forever!

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Re: A Salute to Memom

Post by Ryan » Thu Feb 13, 2020 3:49 am

Thanks for sharing.

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Re: A Salute to Memom

Post by biopearl123 » Thu Feb 13, 2020 4:47 pm

Commsman, the evil and sadness of cancer has affected us all. Thank you for sharing this touching family story. bp

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Re: A Salute to Memom

Post by Ryan » Fri Feb 14, 2020 12:31 am

Very true, recently lost my Dad who battled for years against blood cancer (CML) ~ ironically (if that’s the right word) I was in GERN long before his diagnosis, and I’m staying in the fight in his honor.

Lost my Mom to breast cancer, and was truly saddened when Imet failed in early phase solid tumor study. I do still feel there would be potential there, but not as a monotherapy (duh).... just need that first approval and then the proverbial floodgates can open for researchers...

Secret Third Arm
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Re: A Salute to Memom

Post by Secret Third Arm » Fri Feb 14, 2020 2:20 pm

Thank you for the heart wrenching story Commsman. It should be a reminder to all those who have an agenda to put down companies like Geron that have a chance of ameliorating these terrible diseases. The sadness comes from hearing of people like your Memom getting these diseases instead of the truly despicable people in the world and on these forums.

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Re: A Salute to Memom

Post by bucbeard » Sat Feb 15, 2020 3:00 pm

Sending love Comm.

Memom, along with so many, too many, are the fuel that drives the engine that will elevate Imetelstat to its deserved place, bringing positive life changing relief to those that suffer.

Collectively, we will finish this journey together.

Take care

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