Mommy, Take Me With You

When the ambulance was called to take me to the hospital, when my symptoms and fever became unbearable, I knew it would traumatize my daughter.  So, getting on the gurney myself became a staple.  “Mommy’s just going to see the doctor with the ambulance, so I can get there faster.  It’s more comfortable for me on the bed.  See?”

If she wasn’t suspiciously quiet, she would ask, “Mommy, can I come with you?”  If that’s not separation anxiety, I don’t know what is.  It hurt me so much to leave her and to frighten her, but I had to do whatever was necessary to get better.  I suppose that’s fighting cancer – and she gave me the will to get through it.  I felt her love, just having her in my life.

“Mommy will be back soon.  And Daddy will bring me home, ok?”

Twice I had to be hospitalized, about one week each time, near the onset of chemotherapy.  The potion was too strong for me.  Every normal symptom became exaggerated several times over.  High fever added to the mix.  These overemphasized manifestations are what caused the exceptional hair loss.  The nurses took me to an isolation ward straightaway, until my vitals were back to normal, and I was hydrated enough to go home.

 

Another anniversary this week!  On September 28, I’ll have survived lucky year number 13 following my stomach cancer operation… feeling blessed!

Patricia

Remember Me

Imagining what life would be like for my Isabella, if she lost her mother before the age of two, is abhorrent.  She wouldn’t have been the first child to lose a parent, but it’s painfully frightening to think I wouldn’t have been there to watch over her.  If I would not have survived, she wouldn’t even remember me today, just like she barely recalls my being sick at all.

 

When I felt better, I often thought about preparing a video for her, so she could have some memory of me.  I would also attempt to coach her through important issues of life – school and career, relationships, marriage and motherhood, having God in her life, self-respect, and family and friends.  I could never bring myself to do it.  The emotions began to surface just thinking about speaking to my daughter about important experiences that I wouldn’t be sharing with her.  It struck me that I was abandoning her – unintentionally, of course.

I had this feeling throughout my treatments.  My mother was taking care of Isabella – something I should have been doing.  We were side by side so much, but it was like I wasn’t there.  We could never do things together, because I was too tired and vomiting all day.  I wonder if that’s how she learned independence… or is it better explained that she has accepted loneliness and abandonment.

Remember that you can’t ever go back.  How do you change what you had no control over?  Even if our children didn’t know better, I wanted to give her every moment, each smile, and all the lessons a mother could offer her young child.

What I can give her today includes love, guidance, closeness, comprehension, and the opportunity to form that bond that felt broken during that crucial year of her life.

Penalization

Special Note to all the airlines and companies who took advantage of people struggling through Irma and who tried to follow evacuation orders:  Shame on you for gauging residents of the Carribean islands and Southeast US.  You must be penalized the same way you tried to penalize them!  The government must step in and do something about this.  Give them special fees the way they gave the people fees… forcing some people to stay in the danger because they were charging thousands of dollars to leave as requested.  Shame on you for putting people’s lives in danger unnecessarily.   Charging exorbitant amounts for drinking water.  Incredible how the bottom line becomes your priority even when that could have been your family stuck in the disaster.  This must stop, and it’s the government’s role to pass laws to remove this price gauging during natural disasters.  Who’s going to do something about it right now?!

Eggs In The Basket

When I sat with my chemo-oncologist following my operation, I thought about freezing my eggs, in case I wanted a second child – which I did.  He admitted in that mechanical voice, “That will take too long and will delay your treatment.”  And that was the end of that. 

 

Missing my daughter’s growth during what was probably one of the most important periods for her, and not being able to hold her in my arms during that year are what I miss.  I can’t ever get that back, and it saddens me still.

So many patients I’ve mentored asked me where I found my strength to get through cancer and the horrid treatments.  My immediate reply is “my daughter.”  I’m convinced that God brought Isabella into my life, at the time He did, for this purpose.  Without her, how hard would I have fought?  Not that I didn’t love my family, but the power I felt not to abandon my young daughter was stronger.

Let’s face it… how hard you fight cancer does not determine the outcome.  Nor will carrying a smile on your face every day kill the cancer cells.  You can choose to seek conventional or alternative methods of treatment, but as the surgeon put it, the result is reliant on your physiology.

Being positive can help you get through some days, but other times, you’re too sick to even care about how you interact with those in your presence.  You struggle enough to get through vomiting, pain, and exhaustion.  How could any one expect us to “be positive.”

I hate that phrase.  All it does is make life easier for those around us.  Is it really about the others?  Or is it about us getting out of our death bed?

 

Wishing peace to all those who have perished during the Mexican earthquake last week and Hurricane Irma that affected much of the Carribean countries and South East of the United States.  And to those who are struggling to bring life back to normal, may you find strength and kindness nearby.

Is This The Final Curtain?

“How many of your patients make it to ten years?”

He didn’t even have to speak.  The manner in which his eyes glared at me, with a little shake of the head, and his lips tightly together, confirmed few or none survived this long.  I wouldn’t dare ask for percentages.  As I write this chapter, it’s been almost eleven years since my operation.

As he depicted this discouraging message, I realized that my fear had somewhat diminished until that point, because it had been so long.  I thought I had beaten cancer.  His undeniable communication raised new questions and the insecurity I had learned to live with.

Did that mean I didn’t have much time left?  There was no point in asking a question I knew he or any other doctor could not answer.  In fact, it’s a wonder I’ve lasted this long.

Thankfully, the surgeon would be scheduling annual CT-scans and, every two years or so, or when I’d express a particular complication, a lovely gastroscopy.