In spring 2014 I became a breast cancer survivor, but I'm not raising money for breast cancer. A lot of people raise money for breast cancer. I am thankful for that. Because of the funds raised for breast cancer I received an early diagnosis. I had access to a great medical care and treatment. And now I'm happy to report I'm cancer free (and keeping my fingers crossed that I remain so). After going through a cancer diagnosis, surgery and treatment, I never imagined that anything else could change my life the way that experience did; but I was wrong.
October 6, 2014 began like any other day. I dropped my daughter off at school (she had just started her freshman year in high school), my husband and I dealt with some house issues in the morning and then I was off to Starbucks to do some work on my laptop and meet a business colleague. When I returned home a little after 5:00 that evening, I found a note taped to the garage door. It read: "I am in the garage. Probably dead. Don't let Darragh see me. Love, Chris." My husband of 21 years and 4 months, my daughter's father, had committed suicide.
It was only then that I realized that he too had a disease. Mental illness is a disease, but, like in his case, it often goes undiagnosed and untreated until it's too late. There were times over the years that I knew something was wrong. In the months leading up to his death I urged him to seek help, but he didn't want to go to a therapist because, unlike my breast cancer treatments, it wasn't covered by insurance. I really had no idea how bad he was.
So much needs to be done to advocate for better care and treatment of mental illness, to educate the public about the warning signs of suicide, and to provide support to those with suicidal throughts and the family members coping with such an unthinkable loss. AFSP's goal to reduce the annual suicide rate in the United States 20% by 2025. This is an ambitious goal. They can't do it without help. Breast cancer was a lot less treatable when people decided to raise money to change that. Together we can make a difference in suicide statistics.
I ran the Chicago Marathon on October 11, 2015 to raise funds for AFSP in Chris' memory. I am now training for the NJ Marathon on May 1, 2016 and am continuing my campaign to raise money for AFSP.
Those of you that know me, know this might not seem right since my running another marathon would be the last thing
Chris would endorse. But I guess it's my last chance to get in the last word. :)
Please consider showing your support of my marathon effort by honoring Chris' memory with a contribution to AFSP. But at the very least, learn everything can about preventing suicide. Thank you.