I have been asked by a number of classmates to share my story with all of you, but feel a bit "funny" doing so, as we are still struggling with all this "cancer stuff" in our family, but oh well--here goes...
After college (I started in nursing and ended up in banking!)and marriage,and having all my children (I was an only child and wanted a ton of kids!), the "story of my life" started about 15 years ago when our youngest son Bobby (he was 9 at the time) was diagnosed with leukemia. This brave little boy endured 3 1/2 years of chemo "hell". Living at Children's Memorial Hospital for that time with him was our family routine, along with caring for 4 other children at the same time, but we were very blessed that he survived, and today he is healthy and has now completed a degree in Aviation-Flight and is a commercial pilot! While he was in high school, I was diagnosed with breast cancer, and endured a year of chemo, radiation and major surgery, but am doing well today, and as many have said, I am alive and have been able to finish raising all my children! 4 years ago, my husband Shawn (my high school sweetheart from Glenbrook North!) was diagnosed with advanced colon cancer, and has endured 4 years of repeated chemo, radiation, 3 surgeries, and recently had to have a liver resection to control his Stage 4 cancer. He is a strong Irishman devoted to his family, and still has worked full-time through most of this time (is an R.N. and Director of Surgical Services at Holy Family Hospital). Our other children are all fine and healthy, thankfully! Neither my husband or I have any history of cancer in our families, and all our cancers are unrelated (meaning there is no common link or cause)--and nothing we thought would ever, ever be part of our family and life story when we were young, first married and having our children!
Many people tell us we are "unlucky" to have 3 of the 7 of us with cancer diagnoses, but I feel we are a very LUCKY family---we have all survived a difficult diagnosis, and are stronger, closer and more faithful because of what we have been through individually and as a family. As far as our other children are concerned, our Connie has a PhD in Inorganic Computational Chemistry, Todd has a PhD in Computer Informational Science, our Mike has a Masters in International Peace and Conflict Resolution, served in the Peace Corps and is now a Special Agent for the Dept. of Diplomatic Security and travels the world, our Jenny has a MBA and is an Cost Accountant with a local University, and Bobby is working on his MBA as he searches for a flying job! Connie and her hubby have our only grandson and he brings so much joy to us all! I always tell my children that they are the very best thing that have ever happened to Shawn and me!
It's hard to believe that so many years have passed since high school! I still keep up with some of my school friends, but would love to hear from any of you who might want to email me! I admit to being a bit "lost" now that my "nest is empty", as my whole life has been raising my children and taking good care of my family. I will try and post a family pix on the site soon. I wish I could have answered the questions for the reunion booklet--I have so many funny stories to tell, but in lieu of that, I wish you all well and hope you enjoy the reunion!
Fondly, Karen Cline Fitzgerald
Subject: The Rosemary Dredge story, from her brother, Bill Dredge
I 'm not happy to say that Rosie lost a long fight with breast cancer years ago. She refused to give up for the longest time, but had 6 children and a thoughtless, looney husband to contend with, and i think she simply got too tired to fight on.
Her life was mentally and physically demanding, as they lived in rural New Hampshire and Vermont, in a difficult house, with wood heat, no indoor plumbing and no indoor water. They brought water in 3 times a day, and thawed ice in winter to drink and cook. She finally left her husband, moved to town in Rutland , and finally allowed us to give her a hand. At that point, she was taking care of her 4 girls and working in a bakery to pay the rent. She then joined a group of religous folks, who helped her tremendously, and supported her and the girls.
All of our family was wary of this group, so my brother in law and i drove from Michigan to visit with these people and "vet" the group, and their means of helping Rosemary and her brood. They were odd, to say the least, but really very sincere, and quite good, and great to her and the girls. The two sons stayed with the dad, one then left and the other visited back and forth.
To make things more challenging, she then took on her cancer, and refused any treatment, saying that dignity was more valuable to her than a limping disfigured life, and so carried on the best she could. I know she worked hard to find a soulmate helper for each girl, made sure they would stay together, and quietly worked her responsibilities in the group until she couldn't. She is buried in Vermont, where the girls still live with the community. They seem to be happy there and we check on them periodically, and the group remains consistent in their support.
This is probably more than you ever wanted to know, but I know she really valued her time with you and Marg MacKinnon, and Joyce Morgan. I was really happy to see that someone remembered her, from what was clearly a great time in her life.