Remembering Iris Rogers

“My mom, Iris, was a silly, loving, fun, caring, strong woman who lit up any room that she was in. She was diagnosed with Liposarcoma when she was 50 years old, but she never let herself be “sick” or be defined by the disease. She had her first surgery in December 2001, and she was up doing yoga a month later and out with my father, my brother and I two months later skiing down the mountains in Whistler Canada like it was no big deal. She had a lot of life left in her and didn’t let cancer get in her way

Even when the tumor came back three years later, my mom didn’t let herself get down and still remained my rock. When I was upset upon her announcement of the tumor’s return, more so than previously because, at 17, I truly understood that she was sick, she looked me in the eyes and said: “I’m not going to die. These tumors come back, we’ll do surgery, and then they’ll come back again. That’s just the nature of this disease. But I’m going to be fine.”

Every few weeks, she and my father drove up to Boston to Dana Farber for an infusion or a scan. The next day, they would be back and my mom would be lunching with her friends, getting her weekly manicure, taking a yoga class, or snuggling up on the couch with me to watch our guilty pleasure TV shows like The BachelorGrey’s Anatomy, or the Real Housewives. She never acted sick and never complained, even when she was dealing with some annoying side effects from the drugs she was taking. She still managed to plan and go on vacations with my family. And every year, despite impeding surgeries to remove her tumors, my mom and I took a mother daughter trip together.

When I was abroad in college, my mom met me in Paris for a week and we traveled throughout France. Little did I know at the time that she was already planning a big surgery for three months later at M.D. Anderson in Houston. She was probably anxious and uncomfortable on that trip as the tumors had grown tremendously in her abdomen, but she never let it show and she ate her way through the Patisseries of France like a champ. The summers before and after that, despite impending surgeries and clinical trials, we loafed on the beaches of the Jersey shore and Montauk like there was nowhere else we’d rather be. And one month before her last surgery in 2010, we went to Vermont and hiked in the mountains, took pilates classes, and just enjoyed the beautiful scenery.

There was no one more full of life and love than my mom. She was my silly, loving, and hilarious mother through and through even at the very end of her life. All she wanted, more than anything, was for me to find a “nice jewish boy.” In the last conversation I had with her when I was 24, on her very last day of her life, I finally told her that I was seeing someone. She only had four questions: “What’s his name? What does he do? Is he jewish? Can I see a picture?” She could barely talk at this point and wasn’t doing much chatting on the phone. And yet still, she told me “he’s cute!” And when all of my relatives came to my house the next day after my mom passed away, the first thing they ALL asked about was the “nice young fella” I was seeing. Somehow, in the hours before she passed, my mom managed to call my relatives and tell them all that I had finally met a “nice jewish boy.”

Now, nearly 3 ½ years since my mom passed away, I can’t think of her or any of these stories without smiling, laughing, and thinking “that’s my mom!” She was a pillar of strength and an inspiration to me, her friends, her family and anyone else fighting a battle against sarcoma.”

– Heather Rogers