It had actually happened—my mother and I would be living in the same city together after being separated by many miles for years. The day had come when we would be able to finally share so many of life’s joys, including my children. Mom absolutely loved the prospect of actually being able to become more involved in their lives. At the time, my daughter was 12 and my son was 10.
I remember as if it were yesterday, my mom sitting at the kitchen table with me and nonchalantly saying, “Pam, I found this small lump in my breast.” Immediately the tears began to flow from my eyes. My emotions ranged from sad to scared to angry to very extremely angry. I later realized she stayed so in control of the idea that she might have breast cancer in order to keep me calm and secure. My eyes still see her secretly crying all alone many times, which again she shielded from me.
That day at the kitchen table, after I was able to somehow get my emotions in check, I took total control. I called our family physician and she was to see him the next day. Mom had her MRI done, and I knew it was bad when the radiologist requested to see us. He knew just from reading the films that it was breast cancer and most likely malignant. My heart sank. We went ahead with the inevitable and had the biopsy done. Of course it was Stage II and it was in several lymph nodes. We left it at that for a few days.
Desperation sets in
I cried in desperation, praying and pleading with God above to please leave my dear mom here on earth. I needed her so much for so many things. How in the world would I be able to continue raising my children without my mom? Even though I have an extremely supportive husband, who is a great father to our kids, there was no way I could raise my children without my mother’s assistance and guidance.
The day finally came after consultation with doctors, my stepfather and me—Mom decided to go ahead with a mastectomy. As I walked back into the room after her surgery, I actually felt as if part of my body had been removed as well. At the time, I felt it might very well have been my heart. I stayed by her side, fighting fatigue, anger and sadness, along with anxiety, on a daily basis. The time for chemo came, which we, as well as many others, referred to as the red devil. It began eating away at the cancer, but also eating away at my mother.
Our first trip to the doctor for chemo, we actually were able to keep things light. We enjoyed one of our favorite hamburgers during treatment, along with a few laughs, knowing very well my dear mother was crying inside. It is unbelievable to me what a mother’s love is able to conquer. She was able to stay so strong many times, I believe, just for me.
The effects of treatment
We then had a great head-shaving party. The time had come and her hair was falling out by the clumps. I went over to shave my mom’s head. My mind wondered, “is this for real?” Yes, it was, as the buzzing of the clippers brought my racing mind back to reality. I really loved the shaved head. Mom, however, didn’t. We had purchased hats and a wig in order to prepare for this day. I told Mom I loved the wig. Actually I despised it. It was not my mother’s hair. Was my mother really under that wig?
Chemo sickness soon ensued. It was awful as I watched her unable to leave her bed for days at a time. Giving her shots to keep her blood count up, actually getting in the shower with her to help her get herself clean, emptying her drains after surgery. My heart hurt day after day. However, I loved her more and more every day just watching her fight and endure whatever just to fight this beast called breast cancer. We counted the days until the chemo would be over. It seemed as if years had gone by. Radiation soon started.
We actually thought we were over the worst. NOT!! She was over-radiated, which led to more hospitalization and then a staph infection, which almost took her life. I would gaze into her eyes each day and still see that fight. I knew my mother was going to be fine. At least I told myself this.
She was released from the hospital once again, only because of God’s wonderful miracles. She was once again at home. There was another surgery, much pain endured by mother. But guess what? That was three years ago in August and I have my wonderful and beautiful mother with me. We have never been closer and I have come to realize there is no other person in this world who I admire more. She always told me through all the treatments, hospitalizations, setbacks, etc., that I was able to keep her fighting. So please, give that incredible mother of yours strength and encouragement to fight every day and never give up—no, never, never give up. I love you Mom…