In June of 2016, my deaf sister, Terrie, was diagnosed with anal cancer, what Farrah Fawcett died from, along with a tumor in her buttock.
Ater months of debilitating radiation and two rounds chemotherapy, the tumor in the anal area was annihilated, but the one in her buttock just kept getting bigger, which caused her excruciating pain.
It very quickly spread to the liver and other organs. Her surgeon said he’d never seen such aggressive cancer. She passed away in February 2017.
Terrie’s deafness never prevented her from doing anything. Nothing stopped her. Nothing! Her love for swimming began at a very early age — around a year old.
She was strong and fearless. She spent her elementary and middle school years at the Lab School for the Deaf, which was part of the University School District in Greeley, Colorado.
When Terrie was about ten years old, there was a student teacher named Norris (not his real name) who wanted to learn more about the deaf culture and American Sign Language (ASL).
He took a liking to Terrie because of her red hair, big blue eyes, and outgoing personality. He requested my mother’s permission to do various activities with her, which, of course, included Terrie’s favorite pastime — swimming!
At the local swimming pool, it was he who told her to get up on the high diving board and do a back flip. “Just lay back,” he said. She did as instructed, thus, discovering her new love for diving.
Terrie excelled as a swimmer and was a diver for the Windsor Wizards swim team. Not only was she the Welco Champion, number one in our league, but she also qualified for state every year.
Above are some pictures and quotes straight from the yearbooks. The second picture is from the local newspaper.
Her love for swimming and diving continued for many years until cancer would rob her ability to live a full and active life.
I might add that, according to what I’ve been told, Terrie was the first deaf person to be mainstreamed into the Windsor School District, setting a precedent for the disabled. With the aid of an interpreter and tutor, she graduated with the class of 1979.
Dive from the highest diving board in heaven, Terrie!