With more deaths annually than colon, prostate, and breast cancer combined, lung cancer is the deadliest cancer worldwide, and nearly 50% of its victims are non-smokers. Yet, despite the growing number of victims, the disease has yet to find a voice, and Chris Clough has nicknamed it the silent killer. Continued silence on this matter will create further confusion and even more deaths in the future. Our team here at the Sharon Clough Foundation seeks to put an end to the silence. We are working hard to give lung cancer a voice, to teach the public the real facts, to increase awareness of the deadly disease, and to raise money for early detection and to eventually find a cure.
Founded in 2010, the Foundation was inspired by a courageous woman's fight to beat lung cancer. President and Founder Chris Clough seeks to honor his mother, Sharon Clough's memory, as well as to honor all who have fought or continue to fight the invisible disease; lung cancer.
68 years ago the world became a better place when Sharon Ann Clough, my mother, was born to Lois and Colonel Vincent Witter. She is the eldest of 5 siblings that includes Deborah Witter, Beverly Burleigh, Michael Witter, and Andrew Witter. She was an army brat and spent time overseas in France and Germany where she cultivated many friendships that she recently rekindled. She then returned stateside to Alaska before finally landing in Vermont. She adored her parents and to this day she has never gotten over their passing. She talked about them often and it always brought a smile to her face, because family was the most important thing in my mom's life. She was always reminding my brothers and I of this. Family is what sustained her.
She enjoyed the family reunions that we never missed, and she looked forward to seeing Aunt Bettie. She looked forward to her sisters Deb and Bev coming to our house in Somersworth and the games that they would play. My mom loved to play scrabble with my Aunts, and I always ended up playing too. I eventually would end up beating my Aunt Deb who always cheated in a futile attempt to beat me. She spoke to them often, in fact she was on the phone a lot because so many people called my mom, and she always wanted to stay in contact with everyone. She also enjoyed going to the Cape to see my uncle Andy and going to the beach. My mom loved the beach and the ocean sounds, which is why she and my dad went to Florida in the winter. My dad tried to get a place on the golf course but my mom was having none of it telling him the only way they we are going was if they were on the beach.
She also enjoyed going to the Cape to see my uncle's daughter Jesse whom she would tell everyone that Jesse got her good looks from her. This has been a long running joke in our family because if you look at Jesse she looks nothing like my mother. When my mother was in the ICU and Jesse came to see her, although she couldn't speak she put her hand to her mask as if to say, you look just like me and we all knew what she meant. And of course she enjoyed getting back to Vermont where her sisters and brother Mike lived, and we would all go out to dinner. I attended Middlebury College and my parents visited often and we would have mini family reunions where everyone would reminisce about old times, or talk about what the children were doing. And there always was always a lot of laughter. My mom had a good sense of humor and she could make you laugh. Mrs. Davis pointed out that my mom was a practical jokester at work, but more than that she taught her how to laugh. I know what you are all thinking, Mrs. Davis doesn't a sense of humor.
Laughter was just one of my mom's many gifts. She was also kind, gentle, loving and she included everyone. For instance, she would write the hockey articles for the paper and she tried to work in every kids name, because she knew that it would light up that child's and the their parents day.
My mom met my dad when she was just 16 years old and she has told me often that she couldn't wait for my daughters to start dating, and she looked forward to Alexis and Madeleine getting married. But we all know that the likelihood of my daughter's dating before the age 40 is slim. My mom was set up on a blind date with my dad and that is when their romance started. Both my mother and my father attended the University of New Hampshire and my mom studied business. They later married and had 3 children but I was the last, I am the baby. My brothers always told me I was adopted but my mom would always put her arm around me and tell me not to listen to them, that I was a mistake but the best mistake she and my dad ever made. Oh did that light my brothers smile up, now they could use the adopted or mistake version of the story.
She later returned to the work force after her children were older at Heidleburg Harris, now Goss, as an executive administrative assistant. In recounting the stories of her life it was amazing for me to hear how my mom did just about everything for her boss, including balance his check book. We have all asked why would she do that because it was not apart of her job. The answer is always because that is who she was. She would do anything for anyone to help them out, and she would do anything for her children. Like set my brother Mike up on dates in high school. This was always amusing to me because some of the ladies were not that attractive, but she would always tell him that they had a great personality. To this day I am not sure how she did what she did. She got us kids ready for school, she went to work, she took us to practice, she cooked dinner, ect. She seemed to never tire and to us she was supermom. But most of all she was a hockey mom. A recent post on her facebook page from Chris Theriault described her as the BEST HOCKEY MOM. Hockey was a large part of my family's life, and it was a large part of my life.
She loved hockey and she loved watching her son's play. Some of us played more than others like my brother Steve, he spent much of his time in the penalty box and chatting with other players. My mom would be in the stands telling the other parents, he's just asking them how their parents are doing. As a child playing, Mrs. Davis reminded me that when all the other kids where hiding from their parents waving to them, I would wave always wave back to her. Everytime I stepped onto the ice, I would always find where my mom was sitting in the stands and wave to her. I continued this when I played at Middlebury. If I scored a big goal, I would pick the puck up and throw it to her in stands, because she was such a big part of my life and it was my way of saying thank you.
My mom was a big part of everyones life. Since her passing my brother Steve's friends have all written on her facebook page about how influential she was in their tennage years. John Kenyon wrote that my mom was a great part of his teenage years and her kindness and love will always be with him. Someone else wrote that she was an amazing person and that he held my mom and my dad in such high regard, just as my brother's and I do. A colleague of mine, Anne, who also went to nursing school with my sister-in-law Amanda wrote me that when her husband learned of my mom's passing he commented " You mean that wonderful lady I met at your graduation?". That is the impact my mom had on you even if you met her for 5 minutes.
She went out of her way for anyone and everyone. She put herself second and took care of everyone else first. To many she was like a second mom. To most she was not Mrs. Clough, she was Mrs. C, Cluffy, or Cluffy's mom. My mom told my brother that life was not easy and she was right. Life is about peaks and valleys, but it is the valleys that define who we are, because that is when we learn the most about ourselves. My mom had many medical problems including diabetes and heart disease and she fought these illness, and when she was diagnosed with lung cancer she fought this too. She taught us to be fighters and to never give up. She and my dad taught us that if something was difficult that we should never give up, and that we could do anything that we set our minds to. My mom and dad also taught us to do a good job at whatever we did, even if it was dishing washing at Molly Malones.
My mother never gave up in her fight against lung cancer, she fought until the very end. In fact, as she always did she put herself second and tried to console everyone else when they were having a hard time, because that is just what she did. I never once heard her complain. She even kept her sense of humor right up until the end. Before she died she spoke to me and asked me to promise her a few things. First, that I would take care of her during this illness and I that I would not let her suffer. Although I could not fix this problem, I know she did not suffer. Second, she made me promise that I would take care of my brothers and my dad. I am fairly certain she had this conversation with both of them too because family meant everything to her.
Remember, my mom is in a better place now and she would not want you to shed tears for her after today. She was a spiritual person who believed that god had a plan for her, although at this time it is difficult for me to comprehend this. She believed in the afterlife and now she is reunited with her parents, my dad's mom Christine, Uncle Rupert, her 2 unborn children, and Aunt Bette. She is looking down on all of us with a big smile on her face and a margarita in the other hand. On the day she died a little sparrow came to the window and just looked in the room for about 20 minutes. My mother loved feeding the birds and we all think it was a sign, and I personally think it was my uncle Rupert coming to check on her before she departed.
Our lives will go on, it will be a different life without her but our lives will go on. If she were here she would tell you this. Our family will bond together as they always have and we will get through this. We have another guardian angel to look after us. Your little princesses will always know what a great nana you were, and how much you loved them.
It was a privilege and and an honor to be your son. I, and many others, am a better person for having known you. I love you with all of my heart now and forever.
Your youngest son,