Thursday, March 7, 2013


A little less than a year ago as I was pulling in my driveway, my mom pulled in my driveway behind me. It wasn't a surprise because she stops by often. She walked in the garage and said, "I have cancer." I felt like someone punched me in the chest. My mom, my rock, my best friend......what happens now?

She told me it was endometrial and we needed to meet with an oncologist in Pittsburgh as soon as possible. I held it together and we said our goodbyes. I went inside and called my husband and my best friend in Charlotte. I was so worried.

The next week, I arranged for a babysitter to attend the first appointment with her oncologist. His name was Dr. Price and he was wonderful. He helped reassure some of the worries that we had. Her hysterectomy would be in 2 weeks. They may have to take out the lymph nodes depending on if the cancer was already coming through the lining of her uterus.

I didn't sleep much the next few weeks. I had trouble doing anything without thinking about the cancer and if my beloved mother was going to be okay.

On a Wednesday morning in May, I picked up my mom about 5am and we headed to Pittsburgh to the hospital. I stayed with her until they were to take her for surgery about 6:30am and I headed to the waiting room all alone. They said they would call every 1.5 hours on the waiting room phone once the surgery started.

I had my iPad and some tests to check for the English class I was teaching at the local community college. I watched a few Desperate Housewives episodes I was behind on. I talked to another family that was sitting by me for a while. Their mom was also in surgery and the dad and two sisters and the one grandchild was there. They were very nice and concerned about my mom as well. The doctor told me that the surgery would take 4-7 hours depending on if they needed to take the lymph nodes.

They called once about 10:30 and said they would call again in 1.5 hours. It then became 1PM. I had to go to the bathroom, and I was starving, but since I was alone, I was afraid to leave the room. It was torture waiting there all alone.  Finally Dr. Price called and said he would be in the waiting room to talk to me. I was so scared.

He came and took me in a room and told me he did take the lymph nodes because it was 30% out of the  lining but not to worry. That's why the surgery took so long. He said that she would be out of recovery soon and for me to go get some lunch downstairs. I called my dad, then my husband, to tell them and got some lunch. I can't even remember eating my pizza.

The waiting room phone was for me again. My mom's recovery nurse was saying that my mom woke up and was worried nobody was going to be able to get my kids off the bus. My mother had just gone through major surgery and woke up, worried about her grandkids! This is a pure example of how selfless my mother has been all her life, putting her kids and grandkids before herself. I told the nurse that my husband was getting them.

I finally got to go to my mom's room to see her. She looked terrible. She was in so much pain. My sister got there about 3:30PM and we sat with my mom. Finally about 4:30PM, I left to head home after being gone since 5AM. I remember it was pouring. A typical May rain where it just won't stop. It was just symbolic of the tears I shed as I drove home. I was so worried about my mom all alone in the hospital. I was praying she was going to be okay. Thank god for my babysitter, my husband, and my friend Chrissy for keeping my littlest one all afternoon for me.

I'm not sure how I slept but I did. I got up the next morning, dropped off my little one at my friend Rachel's house, and headed to Pittsburgh to get my mom to bring her home since they were ready to release her.

She was in so much pain. I was so worried that they were going to be sending her home already!

We got through the next several weeks slowly. My sister had to give her a shot every day for 14 days to prevent a blood clot in her lungs. I went to her house at least once every day. I would bring the kids in small increments because she would tire out so easily.

In June, my mom began a few radiation treatments that had no serious side effects.

In October, my mom had a clear 6 month appointment! Her first milestone in this battle against cancer!

Her next appointment is in April, and I know it will be a great 1 year cancer free appointment!

This ordeal was traumatic, exhausting, but taught me about what a fighter my mom is and what a determined woman she is. I am so blessed to have a healthy mother who is in my life and happy to have been there for her to get her healthy again so we have her for many years to come.