It’s a word that has followed me around since before I was even born. When I was just a twinkle in my father’s eye, my mother was diagnosed with cervical cancer. With 3 kids already at home, the doctor told my mother that if she wasn’t pregnant within 6 months, she wouldn’t be having any other children. With a very tight window, my parents did what need to be done and pretty soon I was showing up on an ultrasound. I was born waving one arm above my head and my father always said it was as if I was waving at the world. Within 5 days of me being home, my mother was back in the hospital to be treated for the cancer that no one in their late 20’s should have to experience. The early days of my life were spent with my family hoping and praying that the cancer hadn’t spread. Luckily it hadn’t and my mother spent the next 4 years making up for the time she missed when I was first born.
About 10 years ago, a mass was found on the single ovary they left inside my mother. It was large, and scary. Fears of cancer came back. In my early 20’s I started to see that life was short. I made some changes, did some traveling and spent some time single for the first time since 16. The grapefruit sized mass on her ovary was deemed non-cancerous and the fear slowly subsided.
Life went on. I fell in love and got married. My parents moved into their dream home in a small village with some property and a pool. My mom took a job working with the public that she really enjoyed. My brothers and sisters all had children that kept growing. Life was good.
Unfortunately last year, my mother started to have issues eating. She began losing all kinds of weight and was in pain when she ate. Turned out she had issues with her gallbladder. Having suffered the same issue back when I was 25 I could completely commiserate. They kept holding off her surgery, just as they did with mine, only her gallbladder completely collapsed. I was absolutely appalled that they didn’t operate immediately, and got her to hold on for a few more weeks until her surgery was scheduled. She did, but lost 20lbs in that time. Cancer wasn’t muttered but we were all worried about her extreme weight loss and worried that something else was wrong. My mother refused to think negatively, and barely talked to her doctor about the issue.
Three months ago= other than feeling really tired, my mother was in good health. Her weight had stabalized and she seemed happy. But more and more she was having some issues breathing. My oldest sister ended up passing out and going to the hospital with extreme pneumonia. My mother assumed she had this as well so she booked into our family doctor. Different ideas were bantered about. Could be a complication from pneumonia. Could be that she had punctured a lung from coughing to hard and breaking a rib. Either way, there was fluid filling her lungs. Within a week she needed it drained, had two catscans and they were no longer talking about pneumonia or a broken rib. Something was wrong. There were some masses still in her lungs once they were drained. My mother was referred to a lung specialist.
The next two weeks were awful. She was exhausted and in pain from the surgery to drain the lungs. We were all in agony. We knew something was wrong but were hopeful for a positive solution. No one was prepared for what we heard.
Cancer is back. This time it is terminal.
It’s amazing how much your life can change in an instant. Hearing those words at the doctor’s office, my mother was given a death sentence. My father was with her and asked how long. We were told 2 years.
How can the woman that I love, that gave birth to me, only have two more years left? She is supposed to be there for me when I have kids. Telling me all I’m doing wrong and celebrating all the things I do right. She is supposed to play with my kids like she has with all her grandchildren. We were going to travel and experience life together. She isn’t supposed to die.
My heart is broken, as is everyone else in my family. We are trying to be strong and trying to be positive. She’s fought cancer before and won. She’s going to do it this time too. She can beat this into remission. We know this but when we look in her eyes, we can tell that it isn’t the same as before. This time the cancer has spread. It’s in her lung, her back and her hip. We don’t know where else as the tests aren’t done.
All we can do, as a family, is love her. Be there for her. Listen to her and talk to her. We can go on trying to be the best we can and be people that she can be proud of. All she wants is to see us happy. We can make changes so that she can be proud of her children and happy for us. We can love each other and support each other as this is what she needs.
We can hope and we can prey. As my mom is now in the fight for her life, anything we can do to help her keep fighting, we need to do. Your love and prayers are really appreciated. Every bit helps.