Remembering Rexy

October 17, 2011

By Lara Usinowicz, Board Member, HERA Women’s Cancer Foundation

Photo of Marilyn Usinowicz

"Rexy"

Saturday, October 15, marks the two-year anniversary of losing my Mom, Marilyn Usinowicz, to ovarian cancer.  I want to express my gratitude and thanks to the HERA Women’s Cancer Foundation and the Board.  I can’t change what happened to my Mom, but together we can make a difference…and we ARE.   I am so proud of what we have accomplished!

Last May, I hosted a Mother’s Day fundraiser for HERA.  Following is the speech that I gave at that event:

Thank you all for your support of the HERA Foundation.  The HERA Foundation is an ovarian cancer awareness and research fund dedicated to increasing awareness, proper diagnosis and care, and ultimately finding a cure to this insidious disease.  I implore all of you to visit the HERA table [at the event] and learn about ovarian cancer.  1 in 71 women will be diagnosed with ovarian cancer.  With early diagnosis, 90% will survive.  Currently only 20% of ovarian cancer is caught early.  Sean Patrick, the founder of HERA who lost her life to ovarian cancer in January 2009, said, “We are with ovarian cancer where breast cancer was 20 years ago.  When people started talking about breast cancer, women started surviving.  NOW is the time to start talking about ovarian cancer.”  So please, learn the facts and the symptoms—the life you save could be your mother’s, your sister’s, your wife’s, your daughter’s, or your own. 

It’s been a year and a half since “Rexy,” as we endearingly called her, died, and not a day goes by that I don’t think about her.  Sometimes it is with great sadness and sometimes it is with great joy, but it is always with gratitude.  Gratitude for being the person that she was.  Gratitude for teaching me how to live and for making me the person that I am. Gratitude for living her life with an open heart and an open mind.  Gratitude for always looking on the bright side.  Gratitude for one of the best days of my life—when she knew that her time was short and we just laid in her bed while she held my hand and recounted our lives together, from the time that I was a baby, to my childhood, to my teen years (and I definitely tested her patience and love during those years!), to when I became an adult and was not just my Mother’s daughter, but also her friend. Gratitude for all things “Rexy.”

My Mom was amazing.  She lived her life well, she loved her life, and she loved her family and friends.  She went out of her way to make her friends and family feel loved and special.  Every phone conversation with my Mom ended with an, “I love you,” and I knew she meant it every single time.  

She faced the trials and tribulations of life with honesty and integrity, whether they were the trials and tribulations of her friends and family, or those of her own life.  Her battle with cancer reminded us all that there are no guarantees in life.  No matter what life threw her, she continued to get up, dust herself off, and face the next day the best she could, until the cancer finally made it so she just could fight no more.

Photo of Lara and Marilyn Usinowicz

Lara and Marilyn Usinowicz

There is one thing that I can guarantee I learned from my Mom:  if you live your life like “Rexy”—with determination, strength, integrity, gratitude, and tons and tons of love—I guarantee it will be a good life.

Thank you, Mom, for teaching me so well.

 

Don’t forget to tell the people you love that you love them.  Tell them today, tomorrow, next week, next month, for no reason.  Tell them just because you do…and you can!

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