Thursday, December 29, 2011

2012 Head for the Cure: Register now and save

Last May about 80 people joined the Run for Steve Damm team and participated in the inaugural Head for the Cure 5K in Frisco.

It was an inspiring day! Cooper, Katie and I loved being surrounded by so many family members and friends in an effort to raise money to defeat brain tumors.

Registration is now open for the 2012 Head for the Cure 5K. I have already registered me, Cooper and Katie on the Run for Steve Damm team, and I hope at least 100 folks will join us.

If you register before this Sunday, you'll save $5 on registration.

The details:
  • Head for the Cure 5K (and fun run for children)
  • Money raised goes to Brain Tumor Trials Collaborative in an effort to defeat brain tumors.
  • 8 a.m., Saturday, May 12, 2012 (with separate start times for runners and walkers -- you don't have to be a runner to join us!)
  • Frisco Square, Frisco, Texas
  • When you register, choose the team option and choose "Run for Steve Damm"
  • Click here to read more about the event.
  • Click here to begin registration.
  • Email Tyra at if you have any questions!

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas!

The perfect antidote to missing Steve on our third Christmas without him: these two spirited, joyful, sweet souls. Eighteen years ago today, Steve asked me to marry him. I thought his proposal was the best Christmas gift I could ever receive. That was before we had Cooper and Katie and the realization that children are perpetually the best gifts.


We discovered this note and a stocking filled with goodies for me on the front porch this morning. Thank you, mysterious elf!


Cooper this morning: "I wonder what Christmas in heaven is like." (pause) "I'll bet Daddy is dancing right now."

Monday, December 12, 2011

Worldly wise

This blog launched four years ago today.

Thank you, dear blog readers, for being a part of our lives the past four years. Thank you for praying with us and for us, for voting on names for the despicable tumor and Steve's snazzy walker, for posting notes of encouragement and advice.


Last night I was working on deadline from home, waiting for a certain football game to end so that I could copy edit a news story about the (ultimately disappointing) game. While waiting, I exchanged text messages with Julie.

I noted that exactly four years ago at that moment, I was on the phone with someone -- could have been one of any number of kind people I called to "interview" that night -- to gather information about what to do about a mass in Steve's brain stem.

I talked to doctors and journalists and cancer survivors and brain tumor survivors. Not a single one a stranger. Everyone of them a friend. (One of countless signs of God in the midst of the crisis.)

Cooper was 6. Katie was 2.

Katie at 6 now is so different than Coop at 6 then. She is exponentially more wise to the world now than he was then.

She learned at a young age how to adjust to changes -- different people helping with preschool drop-off and pick-up, nap and bedtime routines. Our circle of caregivers necessarily grew to trusted folks -- family members and friends who are family.

Her memories of life before Steve's cancer are fuzzy, mostly limited to family stories and photos.

She grew up thinking that it's normal for a parent to spend days at a time in a hospital or weeks at a time in a hospital bed at home. And that it's typical for a parade of generous people to deliver dinners and pecan pie.

She's learned that in crisis, we rely on strength from within and on help from loved ones and on strength from God.

She knows that death is inevitable. That death is permanent. That life is extra special.

My friend Kerith reminded me tonight that while Katie is more worldly wise, she's also stronger than she would have been otherwise.

To be honest, I would have preferred she gain her strength an entirely different way. But I'm also thankful that of the many possible directions our lives could have taken after Steve's death, this is the direction we're in. That I get to be Katie's mom and Cooper's mom. That I am allowed to guide these two worldly wise and strong souls.

Cooper & Katie, Dec. 11, 2011
On Steve's bench, Holy Covenant UMC, Carrollton

Sunday, December 4, 2011


Looming on my calendar: Dec. 11 and the words "First MRI day."

Dec. 11, 2007, was the day that Steve and I stood next to a radiologist in a dark room at Baylor Frisco and stared at an image showing a lesion in Steve's brain stem.

Since that day I have had a handful of breakdowns -- moments in which I was unable to function. These breakdowns lasted at most 20 minutes.

The first was just after Steve's biopsy, when the neurosurgeon explained to me and Steve's parents and brother that preliminary results indicated a grade IV glioblastoma, a diagnosis that offered very, very little hope. My sobs in the middle of an M.D. Anderson waiting room were uncontrollable.

The last (so far) was in the moments after Steve died. And a few hours later, when I woke from an involuntary nap and realized all over again that Steve had died.

I've made countless mistakes in the past four years. I've cried more days than I haven't. I've complained to the folks who I know don't mind listening to my complaints.

Still, I marvel at the strength that has propelled me through the past four years, more than half of it now without my person, my Steve, by my side.

It's strength that I know, without question, comes from God.

This morning I led my junior high Sunday school class through a lesson on prayer. We talked about the power of prayer, not in terms of what it moves God to do but what it moves us to do.

We talked about a two-way conversation with God, in which we pray and then listen for God's response.

Of my many prayers this week, one is thanksgiving for a never-ceasing supply of strength. Another is thanksgiving for God's steadfastness and consistency and endurance while we struggle with turmoil and tragedy and uncertainty.

I hope to do a better-than-usual job of waiting for God's reply.

"I can do all things through Him who strengthens me."
(Philippians 4:13)

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Couples bunco

I've been part of a neighborhood bunco group, started by friend Jackie, for more than six years. 

2008 version of our group
Twelve women meet in someone's home once a month. We visit, eat dinner and then roll dice. Winners and the biggest losers take home prizes.

It's been a wonderful way to turn neighbors into friends. (In fact, this circle of friends was integral in supporting our family while Steve was ill and while we mourned his death.)

December is always couples bunco. Husbands come along for the feast and stay to play, with spouses alternating turns at the table.

Steve loved couples bunco. He loved visiting with neighbors and being silly and working hard to roll three sixes.

I no longer love couples bunco, in the same way that I don't love parties at which I'm the only one without a significant other. Steve was definitely the more social member of this marriage. He thrived on interaction with lots of people, whereas I'm often exhausted by it. (In Myers-Briggs lingo, he was an E and I am an I.)

But I don't dread it this year like I did in 2009. I really am happy to go and visit and eat and roll some dice.

As I was pushing Cooper toward bed tonight, I told him that bunco is tomorrow night.

"Is it couples bunco?" he asked.


"Oh, Mommy, I'm sorry."

"Why? I'm looking forward to it."

"Well, 'cause you know, Daddy. You don't have Daddy to go with you."

At this moment I was thinking of how sensitive my 10-year-old son is. And then ...

"I mean, everyone else will be hugging all the time and you won't have anyone to hug."

At this moment I burst into laughter, imagining what Cooper must think couples bunco is all about.

Steve would have laughed, too.