Finding Strength Through Adversity
Maryfaith Cartwright says her decision to participate with Team Courage in the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer in Charlotte was serendipitous.
"I was drawn to the 'Fight for the Girls' message on the T-shirt," she says. "I really didn't know anything about the walk. But, when I got there to buy the shirt, I just decided on the spot. It all kind of just happened."
So much had happened before that moment.
Her daughter, Christin, a bright young woman of 33 who loved sailing on Lake Champlain, had just gone to work for a law firm in Vermont. As a new employee, she did not qualify for the firm's health insurance coverage.
Days after starting her new job, she found a lump. She had breast cancer. Up to that time, she had never had a mammogram. She went through radiation, chemotherapy, and then surgery. Then, the week after her surgery, the company let her go.
Her mother says that after Christin's treatment, which lasted about a year and a half, she decided to go back to school and get her accounting degree. It was during that period, while she was in remission, that she started feeling sick and went to the emergency room.
"They told her she had acid reflux," says Maryfaith. "But it [breast cancer] had come back -- this time with a vengeance. They told her on her 36th birthday, and she died 11 days later."
Cartwright, who at 67 is the oldest member of Team Courage, says the Avon Walk will occur near the second anniversary of Christin's death, and she can think of nothing more remarkable to do in honor of her daughter.
"At my age, walking 39.3 miles and sleeping in a tent on the ground is not going to be welcome," she says solemnly. "But I figure, if my Chris could hold her head high through all of it, I can do this. I can see her face today -- right through death, she was so strong."
Contact Pinehurst writer Claudia Watson at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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