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I Plan on Keeping the Faith - blog post


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I sat there in our first appointment with the oncologist, note pad in hand, writing down notes so we would know exactly what we were dealing with – Liver, bones, several spots in the bones, neck, middle back, pelvis, ribs, lumbar spine… As I listened I wrote down questions – How fast? Brain? More notes – surgery not an option, no radiation. How long – 4 months to 1 year… I look at my Mom and I stepped outside of myself – I was not in a business meeting, I was not in school – I was hearing for the first time how severe my Mom’s lung cancer truly is and hearing how much time I would have left with her… The tears began to flow and truly, have not stopped…

My Mom – my rock, the owner of my history and memories, my best friend, my love – at the young age of 62, a non-smoker, the healthiest one in the family was diagnosed with Stage IV NSCLC on May 29th, 2013. No one should have to ask the questions that my mom did when she was told – why didn’t they catch it sooner? How can it have already spread so quickly? How long do I have left to see my children? It is time for a change with lung cancer education.

I stayed on my Mom’s couch that first month attempting to stay strong in front of her, most nights wide awake and crying whilst searching the internet for answers. I would highly recommend that your family designate one or two people to do the homework online, someone that can sort through the scary facts (and at times that seems to be all you find) and find the hope that is out there. I started doing the house chores allowing her to rest but also trying to balance giving her the space to do for herself and keep her independence. She started round 1 of chemo (carbo + alitma) and I sprayed the house with antibacterial cleaner and tried to ensure any guests used it when they came to visit. I sat down with my Mom and helped her order chemo scarves just in case she lost her hair. I hugged her and let her cry, as I desperately held back my own tears when the scarves arrived and the reality that she is now a cancer patient hit home.

Words like neuropathy, port, chemo brain, Xalkori, edema became second nature when just days before I had no idea what they meant. I think most of us grow up hearing this big scary term called cancer and heck, all problems were meant to be kept in perspective because we didn’t have cancer…but then the nightmare becomes reality – cancer truly hits home. All of a sudden every day issues become nothing, you hate to even complain about a headache or a minor ache because after all, your mom does indeed have cancer and her body is now a science project… Well, it is just a lot to take in.

Before treatment really kicked in I saw my once active, healthy Mom having difficulty breathing, coughing so much that I feared she was choking, coughing up blood – sights that I wish I could take away and save her from the pain and fear that must go along with it. My entire life I have wanted nothing more than pure happiness for her. She spent her life ensuring that my brother and I never did without and instilled life lessons of hard work, education, unconditional love, honesty and trust. I will never understand why this had to happen to her, however I now try to focus on the celebration of her life and I will be forever grateful that I have been blessed with such an incredible mother.

Thankfully my Mom tested positive for the ALK genetic mutation. This allowed us to replace chemo with a pill twice a day, Xalkori. So far so good on this pill. My mom’s life isn’t what it used to be – how could it be after all? She’s adjusting to the side effects and having better days. Sometimes I think she handles having cancer better than I cope with her having it. I still read everything I can get my hands on regarding lung cancer or how to help the side effects, anything. I try not to panic at those moments when I call her and she doesn’t answer. I don’t know if there will be a day when my heart isn’t heavy or I don’t wake up worried about her. Logically, you know that people lose their mothers but when it comes to your own, it seems unfathomable. No one tells you how to deal with the gravity of this situation. I don’t understand how you’re supposed to mourn and get over the fact that she isn’t there to talk to, to laugh with, to share with.

At the age of 35, I plan on keeping the faith that lung cancer research will continue to improve and that once her cancer cells adapt there will be another drug to throw at it. I plan on holding her tightly as we continue on this roller coaster ride that cancer has put us on and constantly remind her that it is because of her my life is fulfilled and I could not love her more!

http://blog.lungevity.org/2014/01/06/i- ... the-faith/

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