Anna Mariea Rose Gay, 1933 – 2013

ANNA MARIEA ROSE GAY
1933-2013

Beloved wife and mother, Anna Mariea Rose Gay, returned to her heavenly home on May 25, 2013 after a valiant battle with ovarian cancer.

Anna Mariea was born in Munich, Germany on December 18, 1933, the third of five children, born to Ludwig Kohlmann Opfermann and Maria Emilie Spinngruber  Opfermann.  Anna Mariea was blessed with a sunny disposition and a beautiful singing voice.  Her God-given talents were a great blessing to her family and countless others throughout her life.

In 1948, her family joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and were baptized in the Baltic Sea.  They emigrated from Germany to America in 1953, settling in Georgia, where she later met and married Robert Lee Youngblood.  Their fifteen-year marriage was blessed with six children.  In time, she moved to Salt Lake City, Utah and married S. Parker Gay where they raised her six children and in addition were blessed with triplets.

Anna Mariea is survived by her husband of 43 years, S. Parker Gay, and her nine children:  Lee (Val) Youngblood, Susanne Whitaker, Angela (Steve) Haymond, Amber (Devin) Anderson, Jessica Kearley, Nannette (Ryan) Tibbitts, and the Triplets: Josie (Kim) Carroll, Tom (Sarah) Gay, Jon (Noemi) Gay; and 34 grandchildren and 11 great-grandchildren; as well as three stepchildren: Parker Gay (Stephanie) Bauer, Nancy (John) DeFord, and Linda (Scott) Blanton.

Anna Mariea is also survived by Dr. Robert Lee Youngblood, and her four siblings: Inge Topham, H. Karl Opfermann, Ludwig Opfermann, and Elke Christiansen.

Funeral Services will be held at the Neff’s Canyon Ward Chapel, 4176 Adonis Drive, Salt Lake City (84124), on Wednesday, May 29, at Noon with a Visitation beginning at 10:00 AM.  The Viewing will be Tuesday evening from 6:00 to 8:00 PM at the Adonis Drive Ward building.

In lieu of flowers and honoring Anna Mariea’s wishes, donations may be made to ovarian cancer research at www.AnnaMarieaGay.com/Donate.

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A Gathering Today in Honor of our Mom!

Gathering in Honor of Mom: We are having a BBQ up Millcreek Canyon (Salt Lake City, Utah) in honor of Mom – TODAY.

Where: The Terraces Campground (her favorite BBQ spot!) – just past Log Haven Restaurant.

Time: 6 PM

Look for balloons on the road.

Brats & burgers will be provided, please bring something to share and drinks, grill will be provided.

Please forward this message to everyone you can. The more the merrier. Ask if you need directions! Jon – (801) 580-9463 or Josie – (707) 479-9979. See you there!

Thanks,

Jon

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May 25, 2013

Our beautiful Mom left this world at 12:41 AM this morning.

Additional details will be provided soon regarding the services.

Love you all with all of my heart.

xo

Jos

Anna Mariea Rose Opfermann Youngblood Gay

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Every Day is a Blessing

On Friday, May 10th, I spoke with Mom’s hospice nurse on the phone. She very gently told me that all signs are pointing in a direction we’ve most feared. From her symptoms, it looked like kidney failure. To hear that my Mom had taken such a rapid turn was difficult. And to hear the sadness and concern from my family was so disheartening and frightening. The nurse told us she didn’t expect our Mom to live longer than 14 days.

I arrived back to Salt Lake City on May 14th. My Mom’s condition had deteriorated significantly. Trying to grasp, to breath, and at the same time accept what is, has been excruciating. I know so many of you reading this can sympathize and I thank you for your courage, example, and support.

Here is where we are…

As far as we know, Mom is showing symptoms of both kidney failure and liver failure. In order to ease the associated pains, she has been on strong doses of morphine. Although this helps with the pain, it also makes her extremely tired and interferes with mental clarity. We realize that mental clarity and fatigue are also symptoms of her organ failures, but it compounds the problem. So trying to maintain mental clarity – which she has requested – and manage her pain has been tricky. Her vitals have been stable, but these are often signs of our body “surging” in the end.

Our family is surrounding her with love, care, nurturing, and devotion. My Mom has had many visits with family, extended family, and dear friends. It is beautiful to witness the love that is pouring over my Mom every day. Every day is a blessing.

We all love her so very much. What a spectacular woman she is and what an amazing life she has lived. We pray that as she begins to slip away from us, that her transition will be peaceful and that she will be comforted.

My dear friend Adele sent me a quote yesterday about success. It sums up our Mom, our Omi, our Annemie, our Sweetart, our Annemusch, our Tante Anne… just perfectly. Thank you Adele.

“To laugh often and love much; to win the respect of intelligent persons and the affection of children; to earn the approbation of honest citizens and endure the betrayal of false friends; to appreciate beauty; to find the best in others; to give of one’s self; to leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch or a redeemed social condition; to have played and laughed with enthusiasm and sung with exultation; to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived – this is to have succeeded.”

I love you all so much and I will keep you updated. If there is anything you need or if you have any questions at all please call or email me. josiegay@comcast.net, 707-479-9979

Thank you as always, for all you have done for our beautiful Mom.

xo

Jos

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Hospice for our Hero

On Thursday May 9th, we engaged with Hospice Care. The decision to do so was two-fold, 1) we needed the medical care to be in-home, 2) we needed a guide through what is Mom’s final chapter.

The family had several discussions and my Mom asked that we wait to do this as long as possible. But, the time came and my Mom was accepting and acknowledged that we need the guidance at home. Going to the doctor for every question was just too taxing on her.

Hospice has provided us with a lot of knowledge and comfort. They come in regularly to check Mom’s vitals and to answer our questions. They also offer us services like providing prescriptions, oxygen when needed, mouth swabs, and other items.

Thinking about why they are here, has been hard for me and others to accept because bringing in “end-of-life” care isn’t something I’ve wanted to face or even accept. I think it took awhile for Mom to accept it for that reason as well. She is such a fighter. She is the strongest women I have ever met.

But, accepting what is, and embracing where we are, and embracing Mom’s illness and the severity of it, has been a critical step in my life. Albeit the hardest experience.

Hospice is now a part of my Mom’s care “team” and working with them to gain a better understanding of what they can provide for Mom and how we can work together to provide comfort for our beautiful Mom is so important at this phase.

Because the only medication Mom can take at this point for pain is high levels of Morphine, the tricky balance this week has been trying to maintain my Mom’s level of mental clarity, without compromising her comfort. Her request last week, was just that. And so we are working hour by hour (24/7) to make sure that Mom can still enjoy the few hours she is awake during the day, visiting with family and friends, with as little pain as possible.

My Mom is now at my sister Angie’s house. She requested to come here week before last. My sister’s house is just beautiful. There is a creek that runs along the back, the yard is meticulously manicured with a beautiful flower garden (the peonies are getting ready to bloom) and plenty of trees that provide shade throughout the day. Mom is sleeping in a room that has full windows on two sides that face the backyard. My Dad put up a humming bird feeder so that she can watch the humming birds in the mornings and evenings. This home is peaceful, warm and comforting, and she is in bliss here. It is such a blessing to my Mom that Angie and Steve opened their home to she and all 5 billion of us in the family. 🙂 It’s just been paradise for Mom.

Angie’s loving care in this chapter has been amazing. And the comfort that each of my Mom’s children (and their spouses), grandchildren and friends bring to her, has been beautiful to witness. She has been taken care of by so many, and been surrounded in love every second.

And even in this hour, my Mom is filled with grace and a power that is astounding. How very lucky we are to have her as our Mom and our anchor.

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Our Spectacular Mom

Hi family & friends,

I’ve uploaded pictures that have been taken over the last few months. What a spectacular woman she is!

If you have any photos to add, please email them to me: josiegay@comcast.net.

xo

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Mom’s Adventures

Hi family & friends,

Since February, my Mom has been on several adventures. In February, after the news of her treatments not working, her chemo oncologist told her to go and do whatever she wants, for as long as she can. So….

At the end of February, she and London came to Healdsburg, California. She had such a nice time! It was a good break from the snow and cold in Utah. She was able to sit outside in the sun and just soak it up. We ate wonderful meals outside during the day, visited with friends, took walks and had a ton of laughs.

In March, my sister Angie and Mom went to Cartersville, Georgia where she stayed with Jeanie & Stan and was able to spend time with her sister Inge and her family. In addition, her sister, Elke and brother Henning drove up from Florida to see her, as well as my cousins Lisa & Gina and Barbara and her family. It was a fantastic reunion! They spent many hours talking and spending quality time with one another, laughing and reminiscing.

Shortly after she returned from Georgia, she drove with Angie and my Mom’s best friend Annette to St. George, Utah. There she found her “favorite place in the world” out on the back porch in the sun. Kim and I, and Ely & Everly were able to visit her while she was there.

Mom’s most recent trip, was back to St. George with Angie, Tante Elke & Sue. They went for a few days, watched movies every night, and Mom came home saying it was the best time she’d had in a long time! She is still hoping to go back.

I’ve included a few pics from her adventures. More on her current condition soon.

xo

Jos

On the drive back to UT from CA, I found Mom getting a little exercise with London!

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Pictures & Video’s of Anna Mariea, Mom, Omi, Annemie, Annemusch, Tante Ann

Dear family & friends,

Please please dig through your old photo albums and digital files and email me pictures of you with our warrior!

Old, new, super old, vintage – any pictures you can find! If they are hard copy photos, please scan them and send them.

Do any of you have video’s? Old video’s? New?

Please email photos and videos to me, josiegay@comcast.net

As soon as possible.

Love to all of you for your support, love, tears, laughter, optimism, prayers, all of it!

xo

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My Mom’s Prognosis

Who wants to write about the prognosis of their hero? Of the most amazing person you have ever known? Not me.

I’m sure that is why I have avoided the blog for some time.

When I drove my Mom to surgery on July 23rd, 2012 – I never ever ever EVER imagined the journey she was about the embark upon. Neither did she. Nor did any of us realize what she would go through from that moment forward.

And none of us, including her, ever imagined the outcome. Ever imagined any of this. It’s so difficult to process what we fear most. It’s human nature to shut out what we fear.

Next to July 23rd… February 6th was the hardest day of our lives. The hardest day of my life without a doubt.

I was driving up the CA coastline celebrating my 38th birthday with Kim, when we came in to cell range. My phone lit up with messages and text messages when we hit a small patch of service. Feb. 6th was the day my Mom met with Dr. Beck to discuss the PT scans they took just days earlier to see how the chemotherapy had worked and what her prognosis was.

ALL of us were optimistic. NONE of us expected what we heard.

At this point, my Mom had gone through what I consider to be two stages of treatment for the cancer they discovered: the first being surgery. During surgery they removed cancer masses. Masses they could see with their eye. And they removed as much as they could see and get to.

The second stage was chemo: systemically attacking cancer cells that you can’t see. They put my Mom on what they consider to be the strongest treatment for her type of cancer. Although she was just one treatment shy, what Dr. Beck told us is that she is “Primary Refractory”. What does that mean? That means, she is treatment resistant. What does that mean? That means that the chemotherapy she received didn’t work.

Not only did it not work, but from the scans, it appears that the cancer has grown and spread since treatment began.

There are other chemo treatments still available, but they aren’t as effective. And above all, my Mom, even before the results, had made up her mind… she is not going to receive any more treatments or surgeries.

What is stage 3? Quality of life and doing what ever my Mom wants to do now… that is most important.

Remembering to love, to forgive, to forget, to play, to laugh, to dance, not to worry, not to sweat the small stuff… that is what is most important for all of us. Now and always.

WHAT CANCER CANNOT DO

 

 

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BRCA 1: Genetic Testing

What is genetic testing?

Genetic testing is looking at specific genes that are known to increase a person’s lifetime chance of developing cancer. This involves taking a blood sample and examining the DNA to determine if there is a genetic mutation. DNA is the genetic material that makes up genes and a genetic mutation is a change in a gene that causes it to work improperly. When a specific gene works improperly it can increase a persons risk to develop cancer. Scientists and doctors have not yet identified all of the mutations that can increase cancer risks. In addition, most cancer develops simply due to chance, or non-inherited reasons, so not having a known genetic mutation does not guarantee that you will never get cancer. The genetic mutations we can test for are considered to be “predisposition” genes, which means that someone who has one of these mutations is more likely to get cancer than someone who does not have the mutation. However, it does not mean that cancer will occur.

Testing someone in the family who has had cancer is important in determining whether a cancer-causing genetic mutation is contributing to the cancer in the family and is recommended before testing other family members who have not developed cancer. Recommendations for cancer screening and medical management for many people in a family can be based on genetic test results. (White paper, Huntsman Cancer Institute, 2012)

Because my Mom and Omi (my Mom’s Mom) are both victims of a gynecological cancer, my Mom was a candidate for the BRCA1 genetic test. This test determines if there is a genetic mutation in the BRCA1 gene, thus increasing your risk of breast and ovarian cancer.

Having a BRCA1 mutation increases a woman’s for developing breast and ovarian cancer above the general population risk. We all have two copies of most genes in each of our cells, including the BRCA1 gene. We inherit one copy from our mother and one from our father. When the BRCA1 gene is working properly in the body, its product appears to act as a tumor suppressor. When one copy of the BRCA1 gene has a mutation, it cannot function properly. This results in an increased risk of cancer.

On December 18th, my Mom’s 79th birthday, we received the results of her BRCA 1 test… she was positive.

Women in the general population have a 10% lifetime risk to develop breast cancer. The lifetime breast cancer risk in women with a BRCA1 mutation is approximately 50-85%. Women with a BRCA1 mutation who have already been diagnosed with breast cancer also have an increased chance to develop a second, entirely new, breast cancer. The lifetime ovarian cancer risk in women with a BRCA1 mutation is around 40-60%.

I spent a few days in December making copies and sending out a letter that was distributed to my Mom’s siblings and to my siblings. We had discovered that we were now all at risk of this gene – the Opfermann family that is.

The good news: we now know what we are facing. Although that doesn’t help my Mom’s situation (I would give anything to reverse time with this information), it does help my Mom’s siblings to make informed decisions about testing. And it also gives my Mom’s children and the offspring of my Mom’s siblings, a chance to find out if they carry the gene. If they are tested, and test positive, they will have an opportunity to make informed decisions about what to do in order to potentially avoid these deadly cancers.

BRCA1 Letter I received from my Mom

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