At the beginning of 2017 my mother was diagnosed with stage three breast cancer. One of the hardest moments in my life, so far, was sitting in that doctor’s appointment with them confirming it was cancer. I cried more than she did at the prognosis. After that day it has been nothing but a blur of doctors appointments, lab testing, and just nothing but doctors.
Let me back track for a second. Even though my mother and I haven’t always gotten along she is still my mom! She was there for me when I got hurt by my oldest son’s biological
father. She was there for me when I got pregnant at fifteen, she helped me through it. She taught me how to take care of a baby and showed me it’s ok. She showed me it’s ok to go through pain and still smile. She is my friend. I love my mother and I am so glad to be her daughter. She was also there when I was down on my luck, when I was sick, when I was in labor for the second and third time. She was just there! I couldn’t imagine having to go through any of that without her by my side pushing me to be better.
I was the first to know about all this until we sat down and told my grandparents (her mom and dad) everything. When we brought them into the room and told them we have something to tell them, their first thought I was pregnant again because I was sat on the far side of the room, tearing up. Keep in mind I was 22 at this time and already had three children. However when my mom broke down in tears and told them what the news was, lets just say they would rather have had me pregnant then to hear their youngest child had cancer. I will say the only thing negative that came out of all this was my grandmother and me got into a big fight about me not doing anything to help my mother. We came to good terms and understanding when we said at almost the same time:
that’s my mother / that’s my daughter
We realized that we were experiencing the same pain but from different perspectives. She was right I wasn’t doing much but I was helping in my own ways. I helped her do her laundry and things like that as well as be there for her emotionally. Anyway…..
No words can describe the pain I feel still knowing she is suffering even when she holds up so well. She is a strong, determined woman who I hope to become. When she was diagnosed the first thing she said was OK I got this! She stated she was going to live to one-hundred and three and be at all the kids weddings and grand-kids births.
Her treatment plans consisted of chemotherapy, part of the chemo rounds was with the red devil which is a nickname for Adriamycin. The other part of the round was Taxol another form of chemo drug. Both of which made her not eat, lose sleep, lose weight, and her hair. Her doctors were impressed with how well she was doing. When I went with her to one of her chemo treatments it was hard not to stare at her and the other patients without crying at some point. The room felt cold and gloomy. I had to leave the room once or twice to cry. I don’t know how some people deal with this daily, monthly, and yearly. We got lucky and she beat this but for some the outlook is a little dimmer. I feel for the people who sit there with someone in chemo trying to be their support all while needing to have support of their own.
She scared us one day because there was problem with the Taxol on her second treatment of it, she had an allergic reaction. The worst of it was my grandfather was with her that time so she didn’t want to make him panic, Lord knows I would have if I were there I would have been in tears. As the days pressed on, she finished chemo with outstanding results and moved on to an aggressive radiation treatment. Her chest burnt worse than a bad sunburn at a day on the lake, this was a side effect from the radiation. I went to almost every one of those appointments with her, I waited in the car most of the time, one because I had my children with me and second was because I wasn’t allowed back with her during treatment. My favorite part about it was we always made a Starbucks run before or after the treatment, making the most memories out of a crappy situation.
At that point I didn’t know what hurt worse, seeing my mother go through this or having to hold it together! After the radiation and the chemo she had to wait for six weeks before she could have a double mastectomy. After the surgery and the time of healing from a mastectomy was grueling to go through, that’s when I had seen her break down fully for the first time. She didn’t feel like a woman anymore, there was nothing I could do but to tell her she is beautiful.
For a while we came up with the silver linings in the bad. Example she doesn’t have to worry about the under wire of a bra jabbing her, or the boob sweat in the summer. When she was going through chemo her silver linings were no bad hair days, no hat head, no bed head, no wind-blown hair, no shaving for summer, and her personal favorite saving a fortune on shampoo conditioners and other hair care products. Seeing her break down thought was so hard, I kind of understand why its hard for mothers to see a teen absolutely break down over a break up. That is the only example I could give, so if that isn’t anything close to it I’m sorry.
When she had the mastectomy, she had to have her lymph nodes in both her arms removed as well. As a result of that she has lymphedema, which is swelling in the arms caused by the lymphatic fluid that can’t be adequately drained from the limb region. It is a life long side effect sadly. Now she has to wear compression sleeves that help message the fluid down out of her arms. It isn’t as bad as it sounds trust me, its more of a pain in the rear to get the stupid sleeve on. I help with putting on the constricting sleeve.
The pictures as you can tell, are of my beautiful mother, each a different stage of her journey that I had the pleasure of capturing. I got to snap a photo her before and after, to show her strength! Now, a year and a half later, she is healed from the double mastectomy and wearing her pain in the butt sleeve.
She has the option of getting implants but she is enjoying being boob-less for now. She does have fake boobs that go in a bra for the day’s she wants them on, which is nice. As for me and going through this with her it was hard because I know this journey isn’t over yet. We aren’t out of the woods, she has to have scans to tell if it truly is all gone. Even then she isn’t truly cured just in remission, which a whole different anxiety thought I rather not pay attention to. I can’t tell you how much my anxiety spiked through all of this.
It isn’t her fault that it happened. As for being one of the people who watched a loved one go through this you tend to feel helpless. You feel out of control which you desperately want to be in control. I couldn’t imagine how it feels when that love one loses their battle. If my mother did that to me I would be lost. Like I stated before she is my other rock, she is a best friend.
Now I know my mother is going to read this, she is my number one blog reader, so here is for you mom. I love you, your story from my perspective. I want you to know how incredible and impressed I am that you kept yourself together better than we did. I admire you strength mom.
As a reader who may be battling with cancer I want you to know you are amazing, beautiful and strong. Defy the odds that are against you because you can. Tell your cancer who is boss and beat it. You have people who love you and need you to survive, cancer sucks no matter what kind you may have. So remember you are beautiful. Last but not least for the reader who is a person watching on the side line while a loved one is going through this, you are amazing too! It’s ok to cry and feel the pain, it’s ok to talk about it because its hard to watch them suffer and have to go through this. You are not alone! Its hard not knowing what the outcome will be so we have to be strong for their sake and have a faith that the prognosis will turn to our favor. I know it’s hard but I want you know that you are truly awesome for being their support. They need all that they can get.
Dedicated to my mother who is a strong-willed spirit! You got this!