Monday, October 11, 2010

Cancer Pays a Visit

My daughter, me and my Mom
A tribute to my Mom for breast cancer awareness month - it's an article I recently wrote.  Long for a blog post, but I felt her story needed to be told:

My Mom was diagnosed with breast cancer one year ago – October 22, 2009, to be exact.  It was unexpected, unbelievable and most of all, unwelcome.

And how strange that it happened during a month that is dedicated to breast cancer awareness.  Our family certainly became more aware than we ever wanted to be.

So the day after her diagnosis, we all began a new life – me, my sister, my brother and our respective families began the journey together with my Mom.  The journey nobody had ever expected to take.  But we did; and we were all led by the indomitable force that is known as My Mother.

Mom has never really been sick.  Seriously, I don’t recall her ever having anything more than a bad cold.  She comes from “strong stock” – hearty families raised on Texas farms.  She had her first major surgery and hospital stay (for a hip replacement) in 2008 – at the age of, well, let’s say “older adult”.  This new experience at such an age might have scared other people but not my Mom.  Not a big deal, no sir.  She faced it head on and was up and about one week later.  Surgery isn’t going to stop her; she had things to do.

Then a year later the cancer diagnosis.  And again, my Mom faced it head on.  Biopsies, surgeries, radiation therapy.  Prodding, pinching and more prodding.  Questions, forms and endless waiting.  Oncologist visits where doctors seemed to speak a foreign language.  Organ scans and constant blood work.  It was a surreal time – as if we were all part of a bad movie.

But Mom faced it all with dignity and grace, as well as courage and determination.  And I’m happy to report that she came through with flying colors: as of May, we can officially say she is cancer free.  Her life is forever changed, though.  Medications, doctor appointments and tests are a regular occurrence now – and any pain or change in her body is scrutinized and examined to exhaustion.

But she is a survivor.  Cancer, that unwelcome guest, is hopefully gone for good.

And what did she do once her treatment ended?  She fulfilled a lifelong dream and took a two-week trip to Alaska – she saw sparkling glaciers, Mount McKinley in the afternoon sun and endless beauty she had only imagined.  And she recently took a road-trip with one of her oldest friends to the Florida coast where she could walk the white-sand beaches.  

She’s living life like she means it.

You can learn a lot from my Mom.  I certainly have.  And I’m grateful for it every day.


  1. Hi Susan! Sorry to hear about your mom but I am glad she is doing great now!

    My mom passed away 12 years ago because of breast cancer. I still miss her! We certainly need to raise the awareness!

  2. Katriina,
    I had no idea about your mom; I can only imagine how you still miss her. It's strange how many people around us experience breast cancer in their families and we don't even realize it. I feel very fortunate that I can still talk to my mom every day. Thank you for sharing! :) Susan