Teacher, Business Woman, Pilot + Canadian/French Bobsleigh Champion, 2nd overall in Canada Heptathalon

Lesa Mayes Stringer

            At any moment, on any given day, I could easily crumble to the ground with the weight of the grief which comes from the knowledge that my husband has a slow growing, rare and inoperable brain tumour. My husband.The one who everyone loves because of his jovial sense of humour. The one who has told me I'm beautiful two to three times a day since the day we were married. The one who supported me for ten years while I competed for two countries. This great man...is ill.

            Our family is very close. We have 3 children and we love to be together. We call ourselves the 5 musketeers. We started out sad, but then the stress and pressure that came from not knowing what the future held was immense.  My husband didn't take the news well. He became angry, depressed, harsh and rude. I realized I was in the most difficult and loneliest time of my life. I had to help Chris, but I also had to make sure the children were ok. When I was not working I cried. I cried secretly and alone so that I would not make the children feel sad. But sometimes, I would look at one of my children and see the fear, sadness, confusion and anger in their eyes and we would hold each other and sob.

            Since Chris could only work very little, I also had become the primary bread winner. I held on to hope, knowing that we would be going to Toronto to get a second opinion from a highly regarded neurologist. When we arrived in June 2016, the neurologist took one look at the MRI and said, "enjoy your life.” There was nothing he could do. That finished me. 

            My heart broke into a million pieces and I cried. I was done... I could no longer handle the situation. However a few days later, by fate and by the grace of God, I bumped into Sara at a conference.  I thought, “Of course! Who knows me better than anyone else in the world? Who was there for me when I felt shattered after not being able to compete in the Olympics? Who was there when I had my heart broken for the first time?

 

It was Sara…

 

            She spoke with my husband and I, and we decided it was best to do the Journey to Hope now, as a family. We could discuss things...hurts, disappointments, etc...and have no regrets. While driving for 3 days across Canada, we started the process as a family. 

            The result is today we have a happy, thriving family that communicates better. Our middle child graduated with high honours and got accepted into one of the top schools in the world to work toward her medical degree. Our son is thriving in his school and sports, and our oldest butterfly is serving in Geneva helping teenagers and students while working on her interior design degree. My husband can no longer work but he is joyfully caring for our family and does volunteer work for humanitarian missions and at Church. 

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