September 25, 2017


I was 17 weeks pregnant and at about 9AM PST in March 2015
Chris softly woke me up and said..."Hey, your Mom is home. So, the results came back positive." For a few seconds, I was in denial. It was as if I had just watched a garage truck collide into my home. No, it was worse than that. I could see Chris's lips moving but I began tuning him out and thinking the worse case scenario. He continued to explain "She is in stage 4 throat cancer." I became lucid, outraged, and then there it was - I screeched loudly, arms  whaling, and my soul became vengeful. Chris quickly held my arms down and said to me "I know you are angry, hurt, in pain, but remember...
"It's not you who has cancer. Your mom does and she needs you." Those words instantly changed my perspective. I gathered myself, walked downstairs, and faced my mama. My Dad repeatedly walked in and out of the garage, while my mama continued her usual morning routine. It was amongst that prickled the silence when I finally asked "Okay, so what's going on?"

I remained quiet and still as they carefully broke down the medical news. I cannot recall a memory after that. The last memory I have was sitting alongside my Mama in our garage that evening. I watched her stare at an old broken t.v. we had in our garage from the 1990s'. It was a blank black screen but one could still see somewhat of their reflection. I felt like she was staring at her future, pure darkness and the unknown. Nonetheless she couldn't believe what the doctor told her, her reflection less bleak now, as it was a realization that she was still here with me at this moment. She exclaimed her heartache, her recognition of quitting this 'causing factor' of her disease, and the possibility of her borrowed time.

During her aggressive full force cancer treatment (A.K.A a bunch of BULL****) she  became stronger than ever. I could feel this infectious voice of  ..."BRING IT MOTHER F***ER YOU MESSED WITH THE WRONG B**** ." I apologize for the wording, however, I do NOT apologize for my mother's strength. 

I began searching the web desperately searching for a positive cancer story. I promised myself I would return the favor someday. I didn't know what to say when I was around her when all she wanted was for everyone to just act normal. I bought her a card that basically said "I don't know what to say, I am sorry." These are the cards I gave her and also dropped off at a assisted living home for those who were sick with the same disease.  
My Mama saw this card on the news during her morning routine. She could barely speak at this point but she managed to say "That's my CARD! I'm famous!" Or at least that's what my Dad told me, I was not there.
 Early on in my pregnancy I developed Syncope: a temporary loss of consciousness usually related to insufficient blood flow to the brain. It's also called fainting or "passing out." It most often occurs when blood pressure is too low (hypotension) and the heart doesn't pump enough oxygen to the brain. I was taken out of work and my doctor recommended I do not drive or go on walks alone. I had to wait for Chris to come home from work and take me to my parents home until I approached 31 weeks. I was stuck in an apartment, alone, afraid of crying, fearful of allowing my grief to affect my pregnancy. As time went on the phone calls slowly stopped ringing on my end. My friends did not know what to say or act around me, as a result, they distanced themselves. What can one say when the fragility of normalcy and taboo play as obstacles in conversation? The days became pretty boring and on some days I never left our home. Finally, at 30 weeks the fainting stopped so I grabbed my keys, got in my car, and began visiting my parents every weekend. 

It is far from the simple word - hard to watch your own mother lose so much weight, her strands of hair dwindle, her voice become weary, her humor slowly fade, and even harder was to see my father cry. She refused to shave her head so she purchased a wig. I helped her find a cap and a wig stand. I even tried on her wig and wore it around the house just to get a smile out of her. She did her best to keep a strong front on but at night I could hear her crying in the shower. One thing I can tell you, she thankfully did not experience the nausea or vomiting that is usually common in this form of treatment. My oldest sister put her cooking skills to use. She began cooking up meals high in protein and health conscious.  These meals had to be blended into a fluid-like texture in order to be edible (as a result from radiation). I often hoped being there with my tummy gradually growing would give my mama strength to keep her hope up, the prospect of new life and the battle for life literally resonated with me. With this newfound motivation, she created a routine of eating all things healthy and full of protein. My mom always read books but her taste during this time changed, every book she read had to have a positive ending. She began taking naps during the day and overall relaxing. Now that I think of it, HOLY S*** she was obeying someone else's orders??!! 

 My Dad too lost weight due to loss of appetite. He never left my mom's side. I was so thankful for him, he is a wonderful husband and father. He took over handling all the household priorities and would join my mother when she went down to sleep at night. He refused to let her feel alone. He did it though, and he managed. This made me appreciate him that much more, that he kept himself busy. He stopped staying up late at night and began going up stairs to bed when my Mom did so she wouldn't fall asleep alone.

It was about one month before I was due when she had her last chemo treatment and told the nurse "I hope I never have to see you again" the nurse replied "I hope I never have to as well." One thing my parents told me that has truly stuck with me is a story they told me on the first day of treatment. They witness many children with cancer and these kids were smiling and playing games. This gave them the initial empowerment they needed. My Mom still reminds me of a moment when she was praying and she felt God just wrap his arms around her and she immediately felt at ease. She knew god was with her during every dreaded moment she felt alone. 

Remission began and she has been 100% clear of cancer for nearly two years. Her humor has returned in full force, everyone in our family stopped smoking (I never began), and my mom is back to nagging us and calling nearly everyday. We wouldn't want it any other way.

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