What I would have said if I’d been there (Team Lung Love, Austin)

I want to say a little about our family, and, in particular, my sister Laura. We have three other sisters, and two brothers as well. Seven kids total; I am the oldest and Laura is smack in the middle.

Ours was a nontraditional family in just about every sense of the word. The first time I met Laura, she was standing on our front stoop with her younger sister Diana and their mother (or mama, as she liked to be called). Her Mama’s name was Carolyn, and she had just started dating our divorced father. On that day my brother John, sister Bink and I were meeting the three of them for the first time. Carolyn’s first words to me were “man, I dig your overalls”. I glanced over her shoulder to the curb, where she had parked her VW Beetle. Every square inch of it was painted over with flowers, peace signs and raggedy ann dolls of varying ethnicity. I was meeting my first hippy.

Soon the hippy was my stepmother, and Laura and Diana became our sisters. It wasn’t long before our family expanded even more, as Daniel and then Rosalie were born. I couldn’t have been more pleased, as I was now ringmaster of my own circus, with a troop of younger siblings eager to participate in any variety of schemes. We had tea parties, puppet shows, super eight movie productions, and even an annual neighborhood carnival.

My brothers and sisters were also the students and I the teacher when we played school, and I taught Laura how to read before she even entered kindergarden. It was only years later that I realized this accomplishment owed more to Laura’s precocity and determination to succeed rather than any skills in instruction on my part.

But I grew up and moved on. My younger siblings lives became a bit of a mystery to me, just as mine was to them. Over time, our geographical distance increased and our family ties loosened. We’d see each other at the occasional family gathering, but our relationships became less close.

And then, several years ago Laura and I really reconnected. It was a couple of years into my battle with lung cancer, and despite several treatment regimens, it looked as if the cancer was now in both lungs. Laura and her husband Andy responded to this news with what I was to learn was signature Pastor gusto: they invited my husband David, son Peter and myself to be their guests on a Disney Cruise.

I was now beginning to understand that this renewed relationship between Laura and myself would be no casual thing. Laura brings her A game to everything she does; it’s really all or nothing with her. And she was going to expect the same amount of effort from me.

So, it’s no surprise to me that when I asked her if she would consider running in the inaugural Team Lung Love race, she not only accepted, she ran the full marathon and raised the greatest amount of money. And then decided she’d start a team Lung Love in Austin.

That’s my sister. She puts all her heart as well as her considerable talents and energy into every undertaking. I am overwhelmed and honored that she has chosen to work lung cancer advocacy into her already full life, just as she has made me part of her family again.

And I’m holding up my part of the bargain Laura. I’m still here, fighting with all I’ve got, and I love you so. I’ll be cheering you on every step of the way tomorrow, and your teammates as well. Thank you all.


16 responses to “What I would have said if I’d been there (Team Lung Love, Austin)

  1. AS an only child who longed to be a part of a large family (traditional or otherwise), I loved this enty comlete with pictures. I’m rooting for Laura, too.

  2. Linnea, I love the pictures and stories you’ve posted. You’re super!

  3. Linnea,
    I’ve been following your posts on Inspire for sometime now. My dad passed in July from a short battle with stage 4 non small cell lung cancer. Although, I don’t post, I do root for everyone.
    Your blog is beautifully written & a genuine triumph for all afflicted.
    Thanks for allowing us to cheer from the sidelines.

  4. Linnea, I became all tear-eyed reading your post. True life and love. I’m cheering for both you and your sister. Love, Anja

  5. Hi Linnea. What a nice tribute to our wonderful sister. You are equally impressive as are all the Olson children. I’m happy to hear a positive accounting of our shared youth. I look very fondly upon the activities you recounted. I’d thank you for teaching me to read long before I entered kindergarten as well. I always tell people you were my first teacher. For a pieced together family, we all turned out pretty great. Love you!!!

  6. Linnea–
    What a wonderful piece! We’re cheering for Team Lung up here in MA, too! In addition to your wonderful stories, I loved the fact that I remember almost all the outfits in the pictures, too :0 True family and friendships that span the ages!!!
    Love you, Mel

    • Melinda, I have no doubt you recall all those outfits. In fact, I’m sure there were some clothes in your closet that were very similar….love you, Linnea

  7. Dear Linnea:
    Enjoyed the stories, lovely pictures and family memories from the hippy days that you share with us.
    I called my daughters Laura and Diana, the spell is the same in English and Spanish but I pronounce all the vowels, Lora means parrot in Spanish…
    We have adirondack chairs reappearing under the snow, birds are returning and my nose is running.
    Today I was in Princess Margaret Hospital and my oncologist said is not running because of chemo maybe allergies, to hospitals?
    A good family relation, love and good health are the most important things, cancer like justice has blind eyes. I was in the line for blood work, is good for Alimta next week, behind was Jack Clayton, leader of the third party in opposition, he looks good on TV from Ottawa site of government, but did not look good to me, he also has crutches, bone fracture without known cause reported on papers, mets to the bone? He is young and healthy, use to bike everywhere, good luck to Jack, Canada needs him.
    ( ) Guillermo

    • Guillermo, that is fun that your daughters were Laura and Diana. I too am allergic to hospitals, and I may develop an allergy to winter if it doesn’t stop snowing. I wish your Jack Clayton the best. I wish good people would stop getting lung cancer.

      ( ) Linnea

  8. Jack Layton has prostate cancer, in an interview he reported 20 pounds lost, his wife is breast cancer free for a few years.
    My daughter boyfriend can not stop smoking…

  9. Jack Layton was operated in the hospital Mount Sinai connected by corridor to Princess Margaret Hospital cancer center. Political Cover up does not mention relation of hip fracture with cancer. It does not help our battle with cancer.


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