Marlinda Tsosie Cancer Battle
Rolling over the sand and rocks of the Navajo Reservation can be a bit like the rhythm of a train. Then again, if it gets too rough, it can really smash up the underbelly of your truck. It seems like, just when you start rolling along nicely, there comes the big rock and gully to test your suspension.
As I pulled up, I could see a couple of young Navajo faces peering out at me from the windows of the home we had supplied from the Foundation a few months before.
The three bedroom house is larger than we normally build but that is because of the size of this family. Other than that the construction is fairly typical for the homes that the Southwest Indian Foundation provides.
Whats different in this case is that the Mother has 3rd Stage Colon Cancer. Marlinda Tsosie is 36 years old and has been fighting her colon cancer for a couple of years now.It seems in our modern world, the scourge of cancer has touched all of us with pain and loss.
Marlinda has immediately taken great pride in her Southwest Indian Foundation Home. She is very organized. Her 5 school age children are somewhat shy until you get to know them. They are very respectful towards their elders in the traditional Navajo way.I had a few treats from Easter Sunday that I brought along to give to the children. They were doing their school work, while Marlinda was doing the dishes in their very clean home. Manuel was working late at the Coyote Canyon Rehabilitation Center.
There is nothing like the face on a small child after a bit of chocolate.I was there to see how the family doing. I had heard that Marlinda was not feeling well and that she had chemotherapy treatments. Her cancer is advancing. When I looked into here eyes I could see her courage. For the children's sake, she is staying strong and keeping a positive.There is hope that the cancer was fully excised and it has not gone into the lymph nodes, but chemo is necessary. It can be extremely painful and debilitating.
In my small way, I want to lend as much support to the Tsosie family as possible.I remember the bright cold crisp day when we transported the house from our manufacturing facility in Gallup out to the home site a mile east of 491 at Twin Lakes.The electrical line was hooked up in late August. The waterline, septic and leach field were completed by November 7th. Marlinda looked absolutely radiant. She could hardly contain her joy. She was almost speechless, but you could see in her eyes, a welling up of tears and how profound this event was to her and her family.
As you know, we are very careful in selecting the families that receive a home. Not only do we concentrate on the very poorest of the poor, but we often focus on families where there is a medical condition or disability.
As I handed her the keys, her hands were shaking with emotion. Her emotion this day was different. She told me quietly that she was able to handle the pain and discomfort, but what was her real worry was her children. She is in the fight of her life for her family. Marlinda is humble, but she told me she prays for strength each morning to fulfill her duties as a wife and mother.
Life for a young mother on the Navajo Reservation is tough enough but the challenges are multiplied when dealing with cancer and the long commute to Albuquerque for treatment.
The Southwest Indian Foundation focuses on both emergency assistance and housing. We seldom see a family like the Tsosies. They are the perfect example of the type of people that not only need our help but the kind of people that it is just impossible to imagine not helping.
As I walked out the door, my heart wrenching, I thought of my own mother and how I wish that I had told her that I loved her more often. I looked back at the children as they huddled around Marlinda, the little ones hugging her leg. She is a real heroine.
Marlinda is a real inspiration.
May God Bless You Abundantly,
Deacon Sherman Manuelito
P.S. Around this Mother's Day, as we think of our own Mothers, both living and deceased, let us think of Marlinda and the hundreds of other Native Mothers that do their best in what are ometimes incredibly dire circumstances.
We Truly hope you have a Happy Mother's Day
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