I have been hearing about Team RockStar for YEARS! I have been a donor of army friend Jen and Jen and Meg and Meredith… I have had so many friends do this ride and now it’s my turn!
Hi all! I’m Pleasance Lowengard Silicki and here is why I am riding…
Last summer, I took the kids to live at my grandma’s house in CT for 2 months. When we left in August, she was walking her two dogs daily and swimming at the local pool. We left her in good health, good spirits and with promises of high holiday visits. Less than a month after we returned to DC, my grandmother was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. To be honest, it was quite a shock considering how much time we had just spent with each other and how healthy she appeared to be, even for 86.
“Oh how sad,” people would say when I told them my grandma was sick. Knew many of them pictured a sweet old, grandmother who bakes cookies and knits and maybe still drives here and there.
The truth is, Elaine Title Lowengard is kind of the COOLEST and most bad ass people you would ever know. Just a few short years ago she was flying from Hartford to BWI, renting a car and driving herself (in a snow storm) to see my kiddos. I was not exactly thrilled with her choice- but at 85 she was still one of the strongest healthiest, most stubborn and active people I knew.
My dad was just 19 when I was born. My grandma took me to Paris and Israel and showed mea world beyond what my parents could. She encouraged me to apply to Penn Grad School and when I got in she said, “You should have applied to Harvard.”
Not only did my grandma have six children, (and let me be clear, she did not stay home and raise them) she has a resume that includes teaching latin and history, the only female in the department, to headmistress of a progressive private school to VP and CBT (again, FIRST and only female VP at the time) to eventually end her professional career ED of CT Valley Girl Scouts. And, when she left the Girl Scouts, she headed to Israel to further her Jewish and Hebrew studies.
Getting sick was just another way she showed strength. She refused to give up, refused to let go of life, refused to go on hospice. She keeps telling me, “Let’s just figure it out as it comes along. We can’t get all upset about this, we need more information to make decision. Let’s just take it one appointment at a time.” The doctors came to her and said, here are your options: #1 on-going chemo treatment for the rest of your life, #2 hospice, or #3 high risk surgery. We REALLY don’t recommend surgery at your age. And before they could finish she said, “I’ll take the surgery,” with no hesitation.
On Jan 4, 2017 she had the surgery and was literally up and bossing people around less than 48 hours later. I am thrilled to tell you all that my grandma is home enjoying her Maker’s Mark, her two dogs, watching the Good Wife after her chemo treatments and eating Talenti Salted Carmel Gelato every night after dinner. She told me this fall that she was not going anywhere, and that she wants to see my kiddos next birthdays and have them come again this summer for an extended visit. She is being treated at Harvard Hospital who actually has a research partnership with Sloan Kettering for Ovarian Cancer.
Unfortunately, this is not where the story end. In an UNBELIEVABLE turn of events, I promise you the next part of our story is true, although it will sound like total fiction.
When my grandmother got sick, my Aunt Mary decided to temporarily move in. Mary has grown children and decided that in order to help my grandma with the cancer, it would be best for her to just move to Hartford to help with doctors appointments, etc. My aunt took over EVERYTHING from cleaning up the house, making spreadsheets, and appointments for OT and PT and scheduling all of our extended family REGULAR visits to keep grandma company.
On Thanksgiving, my Aunt Mary was feeling REALLY sick. We thought it was just exhaustion from being my grandmother’s care giver and from hosting 20+ of us for Thanksgiving. A week later, my aunt found herself in Hartford hospital in severe pain, not able to sleep, and wanting answers. As it turns out, she TOO has ovarian cancer. So, right now, BOTH my aunt and my grandma are being treated by the same oncology team in Hartford, they have double chemo appointments and back to back weekly blood draws.
My aunt is not doing as well as my grandmother. Her journey seems to have a few more bumps from super low white counts, clots all over her lungs, and they keep pushing her surgery back until she stabilizes. Our story is not over but I ride to raise money for my aunt and my grandma! I have no clue what is in store for our family BUT I know our story is not over yet and I can’t wait to get on that bike and ride as a Rockstar in honor of Elaine and Mary.