During the winter of 2005 I was going through many positive life changes one which included getting into shape. To assist with that facet I decided to power walk the Fairfield Connecticut Half Marathon with the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society's Team in Training. During this time I met a great woman named Irene Berg. Irene and I hit it off immedaitely. We talked about all kinds of things during these walks and since we took up the tail end of the walking group we got to know each other pretty well. Irene was very open about how she discovered she had a form of Leukemia and had needed a Bone Marrow transplant to help heal her from the disease. None of her family members were a match however a match was found within a gentleman living in the West Coast. She had the transplant and than onto the recovery stage. Recovery from a BM transplant is like none other. She could not enjoy fresh fruits and vegetables- to much risk for contamination. She could only eat processed foods. Six months into her recovery she told her Doctor she was yearning to taste a fresh tomato. She had to wait another full month until she was allowed to do so. A couple of months after that she was allowed to go to a restaurant something that she was unable to do for the better part of a year. She told me that all of her Co Workers took her to a brunch..and she enjoyed it immensely.
As the race approached I received an email one day from Irene asking me if I would be her "Walking Buddy" as I was doing this race more for the cause and general excercise and frankly could care less what place I came in I was flattered and pleased and immediately said yes. Best decision EVER! We walked the race, with me acting as your typical Italian Mother reminding Irene to drink her water and eat her snacks. She was a little nervous since we were again at the tail end of the race that we would be left behind..I in my usual care free way told her not to worry..the Fairfield Fire Department was hosting this..and I was the Fire Chief's Personal Banker and he was not going to let anything happen to me. Around mile 9 Irene started to not feel well and together we got on the bus back to the starting line and walked through the finish line. We accomplished it! That day started a wonderful friendship. We would meet at the Danbury Mall which was halfway between our homes and walk it. We walked the Light the Night which is a very short walk..where everyone was gracious enough to let Irene head the walk.
Last year around this time, Irene got sick again. She went to Boston for treatment and was there for several months. She needed a new BM transplant. She received the transplant and all seemed to be going well- I received an email from her 2 weeks ago. She got sick and contracted pneumonia. Sadly she passed away this past Sunday November 15th. Her Cousin, Pam, remembered me from the walk and emailed me the sad news. I am so terribly sad and yet she FOUGHT. She fought her disease with a smile and such strength. Irene taught me so much and I will miss you terribly. May you Rest in Peace.
xoxo Love, Carolyn