Friday, June 8, 2007

The Journey

One afternoon last October my mom and I were talking. At the time, she was caring for the twins on a regular basis. She mentioned there was a day she would be unable to care for them because she had a doctors appointment.
I inquired as to whether or not everything was ok. "Sure" I remember her saying. It was just a routine follow up to her annual mammogram.
"This happens all the time" she said. "I have fibrocystic breasts and the doctors always seem to find something and it always turns out to be nothing."

Ok, I thought. She knows her own body. If she's not worried then neither am I.

And so I forgot.

Until I got a call from my sister at work a few days later. Apparently my mom had been trying to get in touch with me but had been unsuccessful. When my sister conferenced my mom in to the call I knew something was going on.

I heard terms such as insitu ductal carcinoma and infilitrating carcinoma. But the question was, what did all these things mean ?

My mom, my sister and I talked for a few minutes more about what would happen next but it was clear we were all overwhelmed and didn't know what any of this meant.

I later found out exactly what those words meant.

It meant that my mother had breast cancer.

I felt powerless. Was this really happening to my mother?

After losing my father suddenly in 1999 my mother had become everything to me and this was so unfair. I wasn't sure this was something I was prepared to handle.

But she was handling it , in fact she was handling it better than I.
So I found myself pulling it together for her. She'd been an exceptional, unwavering support for me over the years and now it was my turn to do the same for her.

And so I prayed. I asked for strength for both myself and my mom. I asked for help in combatting whatever might be next. And most of all I prayed that this disease wouldn't take my mom as heart disease had taken my dad years before.

My mom turned 60 about a month later . We'd talked about her 60th birthday the year before. We discussed huge parties, trips we would take , grandiose celebrations to ring in her 60th year. But that was put on hold. For we knew that
three days after my Mom's birthday she would undergo a bilateral mastectomy.

I hadn't really allowed myself to cry until the day after her surgery. Everything had been surreal up until that point and only when I saw my normally vibrant mom lying in that bed, weak and in pain from major surgery it was more than I could bare.

But we weathered that. She weathered it. With amazing strength and pride. She got through it.
When I felt she was ready to talk about it. I asked her how she felt about losing her breasts. "Well, they were diseased and that was something I didn't need in my body". Her response was so healthy I was just in awe. And at those moments when I felt so sad for her and questioned why she had to go through this ordeal she picked me up. I remember her saying "I have to live life for today because tomorrow is not promised but while I'm here I will live life to the fullest"

Then Christmas was upon us but we had little time to soak in the moments for we knew that three days later my mom would start chemotherapy.

She started with a drug commonly referred to as AC .Its job: to kill diseased cells. Only, it doesn't distinguish between cancer cells and other cells. Particularly hair. Two weeks to the day after she started the drug her hair started to fall out in clumps. My mom had worked hard to grow her hair to her shoulders and it fell out in a matter of days.
At one point my mom went out and got a sassy wig. But now she rarely wears it. Instead she wears a pink bandana. She wants the world to know she is fighting this disease and she is surviving it.

And today we've reached another milestone in this journey. Today, June 8 2007 marks the end of my mom's chemotherapy treatment. And that is something to shout about. She endured 8 weeks of one drug and 12 weeks of another. The first caused nausea , extreme exhaustion, diarrhea, mouth sores and a whole host of other side effects. The second drug Taxol that she's had to take weekly for the last 12 weeks caused extreme exhaustion, muscle aches and neuropathy.

It's been a long road but we've made it.

She's made it and tonight we'll celebrate. We will celebrate her character, her strength and her ability to stare down this evil disease and fight it with both fists.

My mom has breast cancer.

Breast Cancer does not have her.

23 comments:

Butrfly4404 said...

Worker Mommy! You can't make me CRY at WORK!

Oh, I'm teasing. I'm so happy for you and your family.

I think everyone - sick or not - could use some of your mom's attitude. She sounds like a brilliant woman.

We came close to losing my mom a couple times and I know that would have just crushed me like nothing else. Her problem (heart) was a much quicker "fix" - but its something we all live with every day. A constant reminder not to take life for granted.

Beautiful post, s!

~Jennifer said...

Thank you for sharing your moms and your story. What an incredible woman your mom is! I want to be like her when I grow up!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this, sweetie! I know how I feel about how amazing mom is, but its always nice to see things from your perspective. Hug her a little extra for me.

Love you.

Chaos Control said...

Your mom sounds like an amazing woman and a big congratulations to her for big milestone!

I know how it feels to cling to the one surviving parent. There's an ache - a need - that you can't fully describe to anyone that hasn't lived it.

Congratulations to your family!!

Lollie said...

I think your mom and my mom would get on famously. She finished her chemo in January. Last year, the treatments made her postpone her 40th Anniversary trip to Italy with Pops.

She's happy, healthy, vibrant (as usual) has a full head of now grey hair - straw straight on one side and baby lamb curly on the other - and they just returned from Venice yesterday from their "make-up" trip.

YAY for strong women - shall we all be like them!

Cherann said...

I admire your mother's strength and courage.

My mom's group provided meals for a mom with cancer on the days she received chemo for an entire year. She said that when one has a serious illness like cancer, you truly find out who your REAL friends are. The kindness that she received from strangers (my mom's group) made up for the "friends" that kept away and dropped off the face of the planet.

Queen Heather said...

I know it will be a wonderful celebration!

Shauna said...

My mom has breast cancer. Breast Cancer does not have her!

I love this. Your mom is an amazing woman. Now I know where you get it from! Give your mom a hug for me. And tell her to give you a hug for me.

Janet a.k.a. "Wonder Mom" said...

Woman.

I send you all of my heart to celebrate this milestone with your Mamma....

I send my hugs and my ear for you too...

I am so proud of your mom. She is a strong woman and she will be fine...

I am so proud if you for being so supportive and strong for your mom.

This is a wonderful post. And I am honored that you shared it with 'us'...

yerdoingitwrong said...

Good for your mama. What an impressive woman!! I'm walking in the Breast Cancer 3-day this year. Breast Cancer runs in my dad's family, too but the diesese thankfully didn't take anyone. I don't know if I'll be able to complete the whole thing, but I'll sure try and I'll be thinking of your precious mother and my paternal Grandmother the whole way!!! It's for them.

hugs, girl.
xo.

Brillig said...

I loved this whole post, and especially the last line: "Breast Cancer does not have her."

I'm happy that the chemo is all done and I salute both you and your mother for your attitudes. What a journey!!! May it be filled with joy from here on out.

Seattle Mamacita said...

beautiful post..like everyone else i love the last line.

moosh in indy. said...

what a mama, what a daughter.
go mama go.

Queen of the Mayhem said...

I cried reading this post! What an amazing woman! I just want to give both you and your mom a huge hug!

They say people show their true colors when they are ill.....and it sounds like your mom is pretty fantastic!

I will pray that her health continues to improve!

Rice said...

What a beautiful daughter you are. Loving and supporting and rejoicing for your mom and her brave fight.

You should all be proud of yourselves for keeping it real during this terrible fight.
I know because I have it myself. I had the same procedure and chemo and now radiation. Your mom will still have bad days during that second round. Keep your positive attitude and remember to breathe.

Jennifer Playgroupie said...

Thanks for telling her story. Beautiful post!

Ally said...

Wow, this is definitely something to shout about, like you said. I will pray for your Mom, too, that cancer will never steal her hope. Hang in there, strong Worker Mommy!

Lene said...

What a HUGE accomplishment for your mom! She is one tough cookie!

I love those last two lines!

Domestically Disabled Girl said...

wow, what an inspirational story. and you made me cry!

my grandma battled breast cancer as well. it's an evil, evil disease. i only hope if something like that ever happens to me, i will be even half as strong as your mom, my grandma and other wonderful women who have fought that same battle with strength and courage, whether or they won or lost in the end.

whiskeymarie said...

Oh hon-
you're a tough cookie & it looks like we know where you got it from.
She sounds amazing.

Worker Mommy said...

Thanks everyone. I truly love and appreciate all the wonderful things you've said about my mom (and me)
It was a pleasure to be able to share with you the amazing person I know and love. She continue to amaze me and give me strength!

Lollie & Rice - thanks for sharing your personal experiences with me. I wish your mom Lollie and you Rice all the best !!!

Sugar Kane said...

What an absolutely beautiful post! I wish I could give you a hug!!

carrie said...

As I sit here, teats welling in my eyes - especiall at the part about you not letting yourself cry until after her surgery...I am right there, right on the verge. My mom's surgery is July 1st.

I'm going to send her this link - so she can have even more fight in her ammunition arsenal against breast cancer.

YOU and YOUR MOM are such an inspiration. I'm in awe of her strength...and yours too. She is a warrior!

Thank you, so much, for sharing this - it was just what I needed to hear and I hope your mom remains cancer free forever. XOXO