Hey guys, hope you’re all excited, because we’re just two days away from our Second Annual Fundraiser for the Breast Cancer Research Foundation. In addition to DBI’s usual japes and jabs, we’re proud to inform you all our Improv Foundations Class Show is opening up for us! These brave improvisers have gone through Gunnery Sgt. Norek’s Improv Boot Camp, they can tell their rifle from their gun, and may or may not be able to suck a golf ball through a garden hose (most likely not). It’s all only five bucks, and I hope you all come out to support an awesome cause.
As anyone who reads this site regularly or follows us on Facebook or Twitter can tell, supporting the BCRF is very important to me. There’s a very personal reason why. I’ve been debating whether or not to go into detail as to why, but I’ve been feeling kind of blue lately, and I thought maybe writing this out will help. So, fuck it, I’m saying it. Hopefully I’ll feel better.
My Mom’s name is Maureen Murtha, but to her friends, her family, and her many nieces and nephews, she was Mo (or Aunt Mo). Mom was a woman of great beauty and strength, and also a wicked sense of humor. To paraphrase the Beatles (or, more accurately, Phil Spector, but he’s a weirdo, and anytime Al Pacino plays you in a biopic, it’s probably not a good sign), to know her was to love her.
My Mom was diagnosed with breast cancer when I was (I believe, I could be off but I think this is right) nine years old. As a nine year old, I wasn’t able to process this fully. I understood she was sick, but the gravity of the situation never really dawned on me, because she never let it show to me. Mom kept on living her life, taking care of me and my brothers, doing her work and church and singing in the church choir. She’d undergo treatment, and the cancer would come back, but her strength never wavered.
The suffering she must have endured, I honestly can’t even fathom. I remember at one point she spent close to a month in the hospital at Temple in Philly, undergoing a rare procedure which I think had only been done a few dozen times to that point, where her bone marrow was harvested, she was given a massive dose of chemotherapy, and then had her own marrow transplanted back in order to keep the chemo from shutting her entire body down.
Unfortunately, that procedure didn’t have the desired effect, and I believe is not even done anymore. Despite all this, Mom never complained that I saw, never let the pain show.Even when she took a turn for the worse, I never thought the worst could happen. My Mom was my Mom, she was invincible, and I remember vividly thinking that nothing could ever take her away. My Mom had always been there, and she would always be there.
Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case. The full extent of my Mom’s personal strength never really came across to me until it was close to the end. I remember visiting her in the hospital for the last time. Mom was lucid, but she was on a lot of medication to ease her pain. It was then I realized how much she must have suffered: when I saw how much it took to keep her comfortable, it broke my heart.
My Mom died on February 1, 1997. I miss her every single day, and not a day goes by that I don’t think of her. I have an incredible amount of admiration for her, for the way she lived her life, keeping positive, putting on a happy face for a couple of little boys who didn’t quite grasp how sick she was. I miss her every day: her face, her voice, her strength, her compassion, her sense of humor, which she never lost, even to the very end.
My god, was my mother a funny woman, and she never lost that. Shortly before she died, my Aunt Ruth and Uncle Jack came to visit her in the hospital. Now, my Aunt Ruth and Uncle Jack used to have a dog named Ruffles. Ruffles was some sort of little white puffy thing, a very gentle but somewhat hyper dog. Now, my mom was not a dog person. It wasn’t a personal thing, she just never had time for them. Upon entering the room, my Uncle Jack suggested he go back home a bring Ruffles for a visit. My mom threatened to rise from her hospital bed, and (I believe this to be the exact quote) “dropkick that little shit out the window”.
I think back to the lessons my Mom taught me, but I think the most important ones she taught me were in the way she lived her life. I hope I can emulate them, and I hope that at least some of the qualities that caused so many people to love her have rubbed off on me. When I started doing improv, one of the things I thought was how much Mom would love this.
This brings me to Friday. I hate breast cancer. Fucking hate breast cancer. Hate hate hate hate hate breast cancer. Breast cancer took away my Mom at the age of 41, an age when, really, someone should be in the full flower of life (ugh, I can’t believe I just typed that, but I can’t think of a better way to do it). But what can I do about it? I’m not a doctor. I’m not a scientist. I’m just some guy.
No, wait. I’m not just some guy. I’m an improviser. A goddamn good one (at my best, at least in my opinion). I perform with Death By Improv, some of the funniest people on this planet (this is not up for debate), some of who I am lucky enough to count amongst my closest friends. We can put on a hilarious two hour show that we can usually get a decent number of people to pay five bucks to come out and see.
That’s why we’re doing this show.
I recommended the Breast Cancer Research Foundation as the beneficiary of this show because, nothing against any other charities fighting breast cancer (and there are some very, very good ones), the BCRF puts 91% of their money directly into life saving research, treatments, and awareness, to the tune of 440 million dollars worth since 1993. The money isn’t going to some executive. It’s going where it needs to go. If we’re going to get a cure in our lifetime, which is the BCRF’s goal, it’ll be in no small part to their hard work. I’m happy to say DBI is affiliated in some small way with this noble cause.
Anyway, that’s my story. I hope that, with DBI’s help, the BCRF can help save some people from the suffering my mom went through, to keep people from experiencing the loss I and my family went through. And, I hope my Mom can see this somewhere. I think she’d really get a kick out of it. I love you, Mom, and I miss you every day.