|Courage is...my mom|
|Written by susans|
|Sunday, 29 November 2009 19:34|
My story begins with a shy, 44 year-old mother of three. A quiet, easygoing woman who lived her life selflessly taking care of others. Job, carpools, groceries, dinners...the typical and literal mother load. Then suddenly her steady life took a horrifying turn that forever changed her and the people she loved.
Lymphoma. The first of many ugly words that would plague our happy home.
Mom was just 44 when she started her first rounds of radiation and chemo. I was 10 years old–-a busy fifth grader with an active social life and a slew of after-school activities, not to mention an older brother and sister, a dog, and a dad who worked many long hours. The All-American family. It’s a lot for a strong, healthy woman to manage, let alone a cancer patient. But my mom did it with style and grace. She kept the house running, the fridge filled and the laundry folded. Cold, tired and nauseous, she threw on her wig, painted her lips, and carted us off to every game, class and event with a smile.
The lymphoma quickly begot lung cancer and Mom braced for yet another long battle. She bravely won that war, too, but it left her with Scleroderma and Raynaud’s, a nice little package of chronic autoimmune and vascular diseases. Some doctors believe it was a side-effect of the radiation. I just saw it as a lifelong curse that she had to fight every single day. She was in constant pain, but still got up every morning, had her ritual cup of coffee and greeted the world with warmth and generosity. Courage!
For the next twenty years, Mom raised her family, worked, cemented friendships and built lasting memories with my dad. She watched her children graduate from high school, go to college and get married. She welcomed grandchildren into the world and retired with quiet content. She was an ordinary woman with an extraordinary will to live.
And then, breast cancer. Strike three. Only Mom kept swinging, taking the cancer on with unbreakable determination. She surprised everyone with her silent strength, coping with her mastectomy without complaint or self-pity. She simply carried on, putting the rest of her family first, just as she always had.
Though the cancers and Scleroderma had weakened her, my mom spent the next few years relishing her role as a mother, grandmother, friend and wife. She gave so much to everyone and NEVER asked for anything in return. She celebrated her husband’s achievements, showered her grandchildren with clothes and toys, and gave her children every piece of advice and wisdom she could muster. She was my best friend—the person who just made life better.
When we found out she had lung cancer in 2008, the inevitable fear set in. No one person could possibly survive that many life-threatening illnesses. The prognosis was bad, but Mom’s determination never wavered. She challenged the oncologist who told her there was nothing he could do and found a new team of doctors. She fought through several more rounds of chemo and lost all her hair, again. She lost her appetite, lost weight and lost all her energy, all the while teaching us the true definition of courage. Miraculously, the cancer disappeared.
Mom’s amazing strength gave us the gift of time and the lesson of hope. But only one month later, her cancer returned with a vengeance. The tumor was on her spine and it had metastacized all over her body. Once more, she withstood weekly radiation and chemo, sores, thrush, finger ulcers and excruciating pain. Eventually, her doctor relieved her of this torture and said it was time to rest...and wait. Of course she questioned him and asked what more she could do! She never wanted to accept defeat.
Mom passed away on October 11, 2009. I think about her constantly, but her courage now lives in me every singe day. It lifts me out of bed every morning, drives me to care for my family, takes me to work, and pushes me to live my life the best way I know how. Just as she did.
|Last Updated on Monday, 30 November 2009 23:45|