Tuesday, May 8

Cancer's a bitch, no matter what she's wearing

God! Every time I try and get into a routine posting, something happens to throw a wrench into my plans!

I have been trying to decide how best to write about what's been happening around here. I haven't really figured out the best way to do it yet. :-) So, I'll just treat this as I do most other things in my life. Be blunt. Be real. Speak truth.

In March of this year, my mother was diagnosed with Stage 4 lymphoma. She was fine one day, and couldn't breathe the next. There were a few very scary moments where I thought we would lose her for sure. (Let's just say, spending the night in the ER watching my mother unable to breathe is not the funnest experience.)

There are many reasons this whole thing threw me. Clearly, the primary reason is that my mother had Stage 4 cancer. Not good. I was also highly frustrated with my parents, who were not handling the situation the way I would have. There were many, many delays in diagnosis and treatment, partially because they chose not to make a big stink when they needed to. In any normal situation, my parents tend to do the opposite of what my advice is. This is nothing new. I was frustrated because I had travelled that road already. Fairly recently, actually. And I knew alot about what they could be doing and what they should be doing to get things moving. I will never understand why they made the decisions they did. But my friend K reminded me that this is my mother's journey, not mine, and that I had to let her make her own decisions about her treatment and care. I will forever be grateful to K for her wise words.

Of course, the diagnosis had me having flashbacks to my own experience. It was strange to be reliving my own experience just hearing the word "cancer." It never really is over, I guess. There will always be those lingering "what if's" and fears. Watching someone you love go through this is sooooo much harder than I realized. I always knew it was difficult, and at times told my husband that I at least could "fight" it with chemo, etc. He was left to watch helplessly, hoping that things turn out ok. How horrible is that??? Now, we're all watching mom.

She has gone from being tethered to an oxygen tank 24/7 to, after 2 chemos and her latest CT scan, most of her tumors in her lungs vanishing! Chemo is no picnic, for sure. And she still has days where things are not great. But, she's had some really good days. Normal days (minus a bit of hair.) She recently celebrated her 60th birthday, with lots of friends and family here to party the night away. My parents have so many friends here that when I put together a dinner calendar, it was nearly full in 3 days!

I find myself clinging to the statistics her oncologist gave us for her cancer, even though I've always shunned them for myself. I am not a statistic, I am me. I will beat the odds. Her "odds" of remission are 80%. Those are some great stats! Better than mine ever were.

So, we're trying to keep on with life as normal as possible. My kids are yet again smack dab in the middle of a very serious health situation. I hate that they have to experience this again! With my parents living a mile away, my kids get to spend alot of time with them. When we told the kids about grandma, my daughter fell into a puddle of tears and was very scared. My son told her everything would be fine, just like it was for me. I can tell he's got some fears, though, behind that strong facade. I'm still trying to get him to voice them.

If you've found yourself at the end of this post, I have just one thought to leave you with. Life can be short. Very short. With each and every day you get, remember to JUST LIVE!


  1. Thanks for your candor.. I just went throught the stage 4 diagnosis with my dad - his stats not so good and he was gone in 8 mos. I am devastated and there are many what ifs about the treatment and route he took and I SO CAN identify with the "not wanting to make a stink" comment. The only thing that comforts me is that there were never any "what ifs" about the man.. just the cancer.. I will keep you and your family in my thoughts and you KEEP POSTING! and LIVE!

    1. GraceAnn, thank YOU for commenting! I'm sorry to hear about your dad. Cancer sucks, no 2 ways about that. I will keep you and your family in my thoughts as well.

  2. Thanks for sharing, Jennifer. My dad died from colon cancer when I was 13 after he'd gone through a year of hell. I can still remember him breaking the news to us 3 kids over dinner one night. I knew he was minimizing the issue, I could tell it in his voice. I could tell he wasn't lying on purpose (?), but I knew he was lying. Maybe that's what has formed my approach to just putting things out there / being blunt, I'm certain it has something to do with it.

    Life sometimes forces us to get rid of the clutter. I guess we go through life 99% of the time with clutter surrounding us in all aspects, including how we communicate. Speaking as that same 13 year old, I think there are times when serious conversations have to occur followed up with good parental guidance. We all react differently, that's not the point. The point is when we try to "protect" others from the truth, we don't do them a just service.

    I'm not suggesting you did that. I think I've never had the motivation to express how my 13 year old self is still dealing with that one night.

    You're a powerful woman & I appreciate your posts.

    1. Scott, I'm so sorry to hear that you had to experience that at such a young age. I cannot imagine losing a parent. Ever, really. And I totally agree with you that sometimes candid conversations followed by good parenting advice is the best approach. I haven't made light of mom's situation to the kids, and they can see that she's ill, but finding the right moment to bring up the fact that she might not have the same outcome as I did is not easy.

      Thank you for commenting, and thank you for being such a positive, beautiful person. You never fail to make me smile. :-)