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    Posted December 30, 2014 by
    Chicago, Illinois
    This iReport is part of an assignment:
    Those we lost in 2014

    My Baby Sister, Abbey


    “My baby sister, Abbey”


    In October 2013, my sister, Abbey Samuels, began having tremendous recurring head pain. Naturally, we all assumed that they were migraines. After all, she was 37 years young, gorgeous, and full of life. Once our family doctor realized that the prescribed steroids were not working, he ordered an MRI. The test results revealed a tumor growing on the nerves above her left eye, causing her pain. There was also an unidentified foggy pool on her right side.


    She underwent brain surgery on November 1 and her final pathology results came back on November 7. Abbey was diagnosed with grade IV glioblastoma, a type of brain cancer, and given 12-15 months to live.


    Our worlds stopped. We all just shut down. Everyone except for Abbey. Anyone who ever knew Abbey understood one basic fact: Abbey never stole the spotlight—she was the spotlight. Abbey had a beaming smile and a head full of blonde curls. Both were blinding and unforgettable.


    In December 2013, Abbey began her oral chemotherapy treatment and then her 35 rounds of radiation. She never complained. Never played the victim. Never questioned why this had happened. Abbey knew of the timeline, but she truly believed that she was going to beat this. Miracles happen everyday—right?


    Once her body became adjusted to her chemo regimen she resumed her normal activity: working, playing, and dating! Cancer never defined Abbey and she wasn't about to allow it to. She spent her summer of 2014 golfing and playing tennis, swimming, and eating her heart out. We witnessed a strength that had never surfaced before. Abbey became a warrior and her positivity became contagious.


    It was during the second week of September 2014 that Abbey started her downward spiral. Day after day it was one lost motor function after another. Abbey lost her battle on Sunday, November 23. She was surrounded by her family and was truly stunning until the end. Abbey wouldn't have had it any other way.


    This February 21, 2015, will mark my fifth ride with Cycle for Survival, the national movement to beat rare cancers. All of the money raised goes to clinical trials and studies led by Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center.


    My participation in Cycle for Survival began as a tribute to my dad's late business partner, Jim Zec, who died at age 41 from a rare form of leukemia—and my late mother-in-law, Susan "Saucy" Pinsler, who died nine months after her diagnoses at age 57. Since then, I have witnessed the suffering and deaths of two more wonderful family members: my husband's Aunt Gloria and my sister.


    This year I will dedicate my Cycle for Survival ride to Abbey Beth Samuels. During my first ride five years ago, Abbey stood in front of my bike, cheering me on. I know she will be cheering me on again this year.

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