Deanna's Discoveries: Rediscovering gratitude

September 06, 2018 06:41 AM

This edition of Deanna's Discoveries has a message not only for those of us battling cancer, but for all of us. 

I'm going to emcee an event for Isaiah House, a hospice near downtown Rochester.


Before the event, volunteers invited me for a tour of the home. That's when I met Wilma, a young woman dying of cancer who reminded me of what it means to really live.

"I have three wonderful kids," Wilma Mendez told me, her face glowing as she talked about her children. She is a mom like any other. She adores her three children - two young daughters and a teenage son.

"They're my blessings. They're my blessings," she said quietly.

She keeps pictures of her babies by her bed where she dreams about their future.

"I think about it all the time. I think about my daughters," she told me as she gazed out of the window.

Wilma knows their future is one she will not see. That's because Wilma is dying. 

Shortly after the birth of her youngest child, doctors discovered Wilma had advanced cervical cancer. It was February of 2017. Doctors said her time was short.

"Six months. Six months to a year," said Wilma.

She worries constantly about her children.

"It's not fair," said Wilma, covering her eyes in tears. "The kids don't need to be going through this."

Wilma, a 38-year-old mother of three, knows death could come any day. So she's staying at Isaiah House located at 71 Prince Street in Rochester. A registered nurse helps control her pain.  

"A pump is constantly pumping morphine inside of me because of the pain. The pain has been more controlled in here," said Wilma.

Her mother and children visit daily, and volunteers make the two-story colonial feel like home.

"Oh yeah, beautiful people," said Wilma pointing to the volunteers. 

She says that's the gift of choosing to *live there, not just die there.

She enjoys daily meals with her mom, and spends time with her daughters in the garden behind the home. She says she chooses to live each day with gratitude.

"I pray to the Lord every night. 'Thanks for blessing us, and waking us up this morning,'" said Wilma.

Waking to see a new day is a blessing with profound meaning when you live there, the house where the dying teach us all how to live.  

Isaiah House provides care for the dying at no cost. The non-profit relies on donations to care for each resident, and donors also often provide a last wish for the residents.

Isaiah House is hosting its annual Charity Brunch on Sept. 30.

All of the money raised goes to support their mission, to provide compassionate care for the dying.


Deanna Dewberry

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