Tim Timmerman, Mary's husband, recounts her journey.
Mary's story is not about cancer. It is about her inner beauty, her deep faith, her large family, countless friends and the many lives that she touched in a very special way. Mary led a blessed life filled with five children, seven siblings, loving parents, in-laws that were like another family to her, countless friends, and me, her husband and best friend. Cancer did not change these relationships, it only made them stronger. I had the unfortunate responsibility of telling Mary that she had an aggressive, rare form of cancer (Undifferentiated Endometrial Sarcoma- Stage 4) on September 23, 2010. Her reaction was to try and console me and to apologize for the burden that she would bring to me and to our family. This is the type of person that she was. She did not cry because from the beginning she decided that she would not let cancer win. I cried a lot because I couldn't bear thinking of life without her.
After being told that her prognosis was poor and that no treatment was available to extend her life, she quickly came up with her own plan. It would of course include the best medical treatment available, but would primarily rely on her trust in the Lord. She didn't dwell on her prognosis or search for cures; she left that completely up to others. She knew that it is difficult to win a fight with a poor attitude and her strength was her confidence, wisdom, and willingness to connect her suffering to Jesus' suffering on the cross. Truly devout Christians appreciate the power of suffering and reach a level of unselfishness that allows them to suffer with such grace and humility that it is impossible not to admire. I didnt know this until I watched her in action. Cancer was in for the fight of it's life.
Unfortunately, cancer was well armed and her arsenal was filled with drugs developed for other forms of disease that did nothing more than hold the enemy at bay for a while. Mary's will to live was very strong. She tried every drug and surgical option available to her; she felt that she had to. We had five kids that were her pride and joy. How could she leave them? We adopted two girls from China that were both abandoned by their birth mothers. The youngest of the two joined our family a few short months before Mary's diagnosis. Mary couldn't bear the thought of doing that to them again. While she lost her life, she didn't let cancer beat her. Mary would frequently say that she wouldn't trade the last few years of her life for anything. The love that she felt was incredibly awesome. Her family and friends rallied to the occasion and proved the value of the human spirit. Cancer would not take center stage. She instead used it as a platform for her own form of ministry.
We will always miss Mary and admire her for living the life that we'd like to live. She desperately desired more effective treatment options, but only one new medicine has been FDA approved for sarcoma in the past thirty years. Our ten year old daughter, Tessa, and six of her classmates, started a fundraiser to help find a cure for Mary's rare disease. They decided to make rubber band bracelets and sell them at their elementary school. They quickly made and sold over a few thousand bracelets and were fortunate to have uncles and aunts that were happy to do the same in their school systems in other states. The proceeds of this effort will go to SARC and will be earmarked toward research or a clinical trial that hopefully will benefit women that have Uterine Sarcoma. Direct donations to SARC through this link are preferable. Tessa and our family will be informed of any donation made through this site.