About a week ago I made a post mentioning my mom and her fight with cancer. As I wrote that post, I felt like I was really holding back, trying to stay positive. I think sometimes people never really want to hear about the sad or bad things, so I always try to keep things cheery and fun. Thankfully I can say I am that way most of the time, but I am human, and I have moments where I am not quite so cheery.
My mom is sick. She has been for some time but it wasn’t really bad until the past year. About 6 years ago it started with breast cancer. They thought they had removed it, but about 2 years later it was back. The doctor diagnosed her with stage four liver cancer. The cancer had spread. As shocking as that is, and what could or would seem like a ‘death sentence,’ over time the cancer was cleared and we thought she was on her way! Unfortunately the drug that treated the liver, didn’t pass the “blood-brain” barrier. The cancer spread again. This time with devastating results. My mom had to endure full brain radiation. It killed most of the cancer but she lost her hair, her face was swollen, and the worst part, she lost her memory.
She sometimes doesn’t know my name or who I am. She sometimes thinks I am a nurse, or the “girl who helps out.” It has been unbelievable to watch. How could this happen? My mom was so healthy! I watched my grandma (her mom) go through a different kind of cancer when I was little. I prayed I would never have to go through that. It’s like history repeating itself. It is like this surreal nightmare that I’ve just wanted to end.
Last year, I made a post on my old blog about her. (here). There are moments where she seems to be “clear” as day when she’s talking and then the next moment she has no idea what’s going on. My mom, who has always been a super intellectual woman, with wit and poise, is now confused most of the time. My mom once said to the doctor in my presence, “whatever happens, don’t let me lose my mind.” He just looked at her blankly and didn’t answer. I will never forget that.
Now the cancer is back. I thought how much more can she take, or my dad take?? My dad, who was married to this insanely independent woman, is now a full time caregiver. It’s unbelievable to me sometimes, how life can just change so drastically.
So I got home last week and I cried. I cried for so many reasons. I asked God why this was happening. I prayed but I didn’t know what to say. God said,”just try.”
I pulled out my journal that I love to write in and started listing all the positive things that have come out of mom’s illness. Mom is funny. She was funny before but now has become less inhibited and really doesn’t seem to care what people think. It’s pretty hilarious and the fact that she can’t hear well now makes her say the funniest things! The last time I was there, she thought I called her a “fat tomato” and she busted out laughing! The same trip, she sang a song with me (music is something she DOES remember) and as she went terribly off key we laughed together!
I have watched my dad change. He is softer, more relaxed. He doesn’t get quite so “bent out of shape” at small things. He’s easier to talk to and my relationship with him is so much better. He is more loving and fun to be around. I am so thankful for that.
My life has changed forever. As shocking as everything has been I can honestly say there have been so many blessings in this. I will still cry and feel sad sometimes. I’ll selfishly want my mom back the way she was. But no matter what happens, I will always see the positives in this and there are many! I will thank God for every single day I am here. I will always be my true authentic self, love people as much as I can and let them love me (even when that is hard!). My lesson in this is relationships…..the most important thing you will ever have in this life. Not work, not hobbies, not stuff. Loving your friends, family, people around you. Making a difference, being kind, and going out of your way sometimes just because! That is the kind of person I always want to be.