When my dear friend and founder of Savage Support, Deanna Savage, reached out and asked me, “Would you be interested in writing about your Mom in our annual report?” I cried. I cried tears of joy and appreciation. What a wonderful opportunity to write about my most favorite person for such a dynamic organization. I quickly replied with, “This wonderful message has me in tears – tears of joy! I am honored that you would think of me and my mom and I would love to write about her for the report.”
My mother was their first beneficiary. As Deanna so eloquently put it in the opening of this report, my mother was, “The woman who entrusted us to assist her, who helped us as an organization to learn and grow. The woman who is forever ingrained in this world as Mama Wisth, if not by blood then by heart. The heavens gained another angel with Cindy joining the ranks on June 14th.” And now I get to write about her and share her story with a group of super rad humans that provided her with so much during her fierce battle against Breast Cancer.
In honor of my angel and one of the amazing groups of individuals that provided love, support, assistance, and positive reinforcements during her long, arduous journey, I give you the piece I am beyond grateful and honored to have written:
My Mom, my Best Friend, my Wonder Woman, my Soulmate: Cindy Wisth. What a wonderful woman she is. Her heart, so full of love. Her eyes, so bright with childlike wonderment. Her smile, so genuinely beautiful. Her laugh, so loud and robust, radiating from her belly and soul. She is lovingly remembered for these things and so much more: her witty sense of humor, stellar sense of style, and genuine kindness, compassion, and generosity are at the top of that list. She had an unforgettable impact on everyone she met. Her love of food (especially sweets), tulips, bunnies, shoes, and people along with her passionate spirit made her, undoubtedly, one-of-a-kind.
She battled cancer for 3 ½ years with grace, dignity, and humor; never giving up hope, she was a warrior and inspired everyone who knew her story.
And what a story it is.
She was first diagnosed with breast cancer in February 2015. After a second opinion at Froedtert, she moved forward with a treatment plan that began with five months of chemo, then a double mastectomy and lymphadenectomy, and concluded with seven weeks of radiation five days a week. Through this long and arduous journey she never stopped laughing. Her sense of humor was on point and she made everyone, including the hospital staff, laugh their collective faces off. She shelled out genuine compliments to everyone she met and smiled while greeting strangers. She hula hooped and went for walks. She worked her 9-5 and made sure everything was handled.
There was no other option but for her to be cancer free. Well, until there was. In October 2016, nine months after her last radiation treatment, she was informed that the cancer had metastasized and moved into her spine, her rib, and her lungs. It was terminal. Yet, she didn’t let that stop her.
When others would have given up, she moved forward. She took on whatever treatment was available, she became her own advocate, and she fought harder than I think I ever could. She hosted holidays and was a caregiver to her mother. She took trips to Cannon Beach and Key West, and accompanied me on numerous outings to our favorite place, Lake Geneva. She picked me up off the floor when I lost two of my best friends within months of each other. All the while her cancer was spreading like wildfire and through immense nausea, exhaustion, and sickness, she showed Up. She showed up for everyone, including herself.
On her 62nd birthday (April 19th, 2018), she was told her cancer had spread to her brain. And yet she still braved treatment, taking on 10 consecutive days of full brain radiation, hoping for the best and fighting like the warrior she is. On June 14th, 2018, as she was surrounded by absolute love, she said her last joke and took her final breath.
The world hasn’t been the same since she left. Everything has changed. There are no words that can describe the pain of losing her so instead I choose to speak on the beauty of loving her and celebrating her warrior spirit. I talk about her and to her every day, reiterating how much she means to me, how much I love her, and how I miss her so deeply. Even through the darkest moments of grief, I still find the light and that light is her.
I remember my mom in all facets; in sickness and in health, in fear and in pain, in love and in light, and in sadness and in joy. I remember every part of her – everything I learned about her in the 37 years I was lucky enough to have her by my side – and I will continue to remember her as I learn things about myself. I promise that with this miraculous opportunity I have been given to live in her light, I will strive to make her proud and do right by her as the woman I am because of her. #TeamMamaWisth
Through her entire journey she was surrounded by infinite love and prayers; she was gifted many amazing trinkets and tokens and keepsakes to inspire her journey and fuel her fight. Additionally, amazing organizations offered support in a bevy of dynamic ways. After Breast Cancer Diagnosis (ABCD) connected her with a dynamic mentor who became a close friend. This Time Tomorrow gifted her a large sum to help offset expenses. All these things undoubtedly propelled her forward in her battle, lifting her up and instilling a sense of faith and hope. But there is no doubt that throughout this time, Savage Support was the one constant source of outside love, light, and support. From cooling, hydrating gel pads to offset the effects of radiation to reiki, nutrition counseling, and biweekly organic produce delivery to nourish her mentally, emotionally, and physically, Savage Support was an absolute driving light force in what was often a dark time.
I am beyond grateful for the mission of this truly remarkable organization and I know my mother is as well. I cannot thank Savage Support enough for giving her the gift of heartfelt care. They not only provided services but they showered her in love, light, and compassion. For this I am infinitely thankful.