Why We’re Screaming: Landra Graf

Wake Me Up When September Ends

There’s a song by Green Day. I’ll embed the video just for you.

It makes me cry. Every. Damn. Time. In the car, with a group of people, or by myself. I can’t listen to this song because it reminds of me the fateful day in September when cancer claimed my grandmother.

To say my grandmother spoiled me would be an understatement. She poured tons of free time, money, and love into supporting me, spending time with me, and encouraging me to follow my dreams. There wasn’t an idea or thought I had unworthy of her blessing. If I wanted a pool table, so be it. A violin, there it was. Books to read, we’d be in the car going to the library in the next 2 days. Every summer was spent in the wilds of Minnesota, in her cabin, on the shores of Lake Minnewawa. There’s a bigger story there, but I won’t get into it.

My grandmother, Sally, fought cancer first in the mid-90’s. It attacked her lungs and she went through an operation that removed part of her lung. She had physical therapy and she recovered. To maintain her health she ate well, drank plenty of water and green tea (antioxidants are the source of life), and stayed active. She gave money to charities to support others and more than once I accompanied her to different events sharing her tale with other cancer survivors.

Cancer was a beast, but in my mind it could be beaten. Until, 2000 when the cancer came back. My grandmother would have checkups every year, and in the course of 12 months the evil of cancer attacked her lungs again. Doctors said if they operated her lungs would look like swiss cheese. She’d have to settle for chemo treatments.

So it began, 9 months of chemo. We still traveled to Minnesota that summer for the last time. We had a few ups and downs, and I even went with her on one of her chemo treatments. Holding her hand, and offering my support. For a 15 year-old, it was difficult to accept there was no miracle cure, no quick fix.

Two months later she went into the hospital on a Wednesday. She passed away in the early hours of September 17th, a victim of lung cancer and a busted arota because she couldn’t handle any more work.

As I write the tears flow because I didn’t get to talk to her before she left. Our age of constant connection didn’t exist yet, cell phones were still only for the CEO’s of the world. This woman, who spent so much of her time lifting me up, failed to have me by her side in the last hours. For that I ache. For that September becomes a month I’d rather skip.

For that I’m thankful we’re holding this auction in October and I ask you to support the auctions and this event. One share, one bid is one more reminder to others that life is precious, that cancer requires us to Stand Up and Scream!


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