Jody Carrico Martin 1972 - 2009
I know about cancer. Knowing Jody taught me about other things. I know I will get details of her story wrong and that is important to note right here at the top. But the gist is this: Jody WAS the epitome of a young woman with breast cancer. She WAS the Young Survival Coalition. Unfortunately, the disease that brought her into this sorority took her life on March 12, 2009. But let's go backwards with her.
I knew Jody before I met her. Back in late 2002, early 2003, when I coordinated tumor boards at an area hospital her case was presented and I remember being struck: she had pointed out a lump in her breast to her doctor who had dismissed it and her as being "too young for breast cancer." These words are still heard much too often by YSC constituents. A little later she developed back pain. Later she went to the emergency room unable to move her right leg. Scans revealed a mass on her right femur as well as her sternum. Biopsies confirmed these as metastatic breast cancer. I remember thinking "I must meet this girl." Low and behold, she walked into a support group I co-facilitated for young women with breast cancer. She had changed where was getting treated but she had still heard of the group. She was struggling with how to handle the anger at her first doctor. Ultimately she went on tv and told her story. I believe the doctor apologized to her. I am certain he or she will never forget her.
Over the next few years, Jody would come and go as she needed. She was not immediately on chemo and traveled and enjoyed her life as she always had. She became more and more involved with our local YSC group. More importantly, a man she had started to date just prior to her diagnosis, but then pushed away, showed back up. And he was not afraid of cancer, Marty Martin was not afraid of anything. He was an undercover officer with the sheriff's department. In Marty, Jody found her true love and her soulmate. They married, built a farm, started a kennel to raise and train Belgian Malinois . . . But then the cancer started to make it's vicious voice heard again.
Jody was on chemo again and again. She had some surgeries. Still, I started to see her more and more as she became even more involved with YSC in central Ohio. My life shifted all over, but she was there. We exchanged emails and calls and Jody taught me about various subjects unrelated to cancer . . . dogs, vegetables, organic herbs. And then Saturday September 6th, 2008 happened. And Marty was gone. Killed in the line of duty.
In the months since then I have seen Jody a few times, emailed with her a few times, and spoken on the phone a few times; the last of which was last Monday, March 9th. A mutual friend had said that Jody had returned from Chicago and that the outlook was not good, and that Jody was not returning calls or emails. I took a chance and Jody took my call. She wasn't completely honest with me, as Jody was prone to not be in these matters. . .she told me her bilirubin was very high, and that she planned to return to Chicago to formulate a plan, and that I could call her the following week.
On Wednesday, her mother, Nancy, called me and said Jody had turned, and asked if I could help in contacting some YSC friends. I headed to their house and remained there well into the night (many blessings upon the Carrico family for putting up with my presence). Much of my time was spent with Jody, laying with her and sitting with her, along with her family and friends. What an honor it is to be with someone as they are slipping away. What an honor to feel the pain and love in the room. It is truly palpable. It is something I hate to recommend but yet have no regrets about having done. A gathering of YSC gals came out later and after they left I said my final goodbyes and left also, as Jody held on... tenuously. And on Thursday she slipped away peacefully.
On Monday March 16th, 2009 we said good-bye. Jody and Marty are now together again, forever young and forever beautiful and completely free of cancer. Jody's loss gutted me more than others had. She gave so much to me and so many others. She was like a sister, and I grieve as such.
Tribute by: Anna C.