Walking Beside My Mom with Cancer

September 2015

I was talking with my parents a few weeks ago and they said they had an appointment that afternoon.  I asked for what and they weren't straight forward.  I asked if it was "something that I would know about if I needed to know about it" and they responded, "yes."

Turns out it was a lump in my Mom's breast.  And I learned about it because she needed a biopsy on it.

Two Wednesdays ago my Mom had a biopsy.

On Friday she was diagnosed with invasive ductal carcinoma and grade 3 invasiveness; grade 3 being the worst case scenario.  It just sucks.


My mom is the epitome of love and the most selfless person.  Why?!


The following Monday my parents went to meet with a surgical oncologist (a cancer surgeon). One of my sisters and I ( I am one of four and my brother and other sister were out of state that day) joined them for the appointment to be their scribes so they could fully listen to the doctor.  We listened, wrote, and learned about my Mom's diagnosis.  With confidence my mom (and the rest of us) walked away trusting her in this Dr.'s care.

My mother had a lumpectomy on Friday to remove the small fingernail sized tumor from her breast and axillary lymph node biopsy as well to see if the cancer had traveled.  We needed to wait to receive the pathology reports to know what the systemic treatment would be, if needed; such as radiation, hormone therapy or chemotherapy then radiation.


We waited...

We waited with our thoughts, our questions, our fears, our hopes....

We waited...

I prayed.  I prayed harder than I've ever prayed.  

What does that mean? 

I couldn't stop talking with God about my mom.  I needed strength, hope, love, comfort and security.

I prayed.  I prayed. And I prayed some more. 


What do you pray in times like this?

Naturally I prayed for my mom to be okay and for this all to go away.  My nine year old nephew told my sister when she left for an appointment, "Mom, tell the cancer to go away." I think that sums up all our thoughts and hopes. 

Yet there was a deep feeling that I needed to pray beyond the surface of hope for healing.  I needed to pray for peace.  Peace for my mom, peace for my dad, and peace for the rest of us.  

I started praying that no matter the outcome she, and the rest of us, be at peace. 

Also, a verse kept popping up into my head.  I meditated on it over and over again...

"Hope is the anchor for the soul" - Hebrews 6:19

When my thoughts would float away from me, I would repeat this over and over again to anchor me to the present moment and hold on to H.O.P.E. (Hang On Peace Exists).

Hope.  It's a funny thing.  Hope is something we can hold to but if we make hope too narrow, we could loose grasp of it.  What I mean by that is yes, I hope for healing for my mom.  No question about that.  I also know that not every prayer is answered as we desire.  I need to see beyond the hope of healing to also trust in the hope of heaven.  That no matter the outcome, my mom will be well again.  But I absolutely, no question hope for healing over the hope of heaven.


This is tough.  I somewhat think its a dream I am going to wake up from.  This isn't our new reality is it?  Really?!  My poor mom.  She never gets sick and now this?  I can't imagine how much her mind is swirling with the news.  She is the stitching on our family quilt; holds us together tightly with the bond of her love.  Please God, show me where you are in this.  I know you are here but its getting a bit foggy to see you behind these tears.

Please show me your hand here God.  I need to see you are here with us....


Last spring my dad retired.  It was a year earlier than he planned but the timing was right.  It was confusing at the time but now I see why it happened a year early.  My dad is now able to be there for my Mom and take her wherever she needs to go, whenever she needs to go.

Thank you God that my dad is available for my mom.

This summer Dad suggested to my siblings and I that we throw a surprise birthday party for my Mom.  We were resistant for a few reasons, one being that our mom doesn't like surprise parties, but we did it anyway to celebrate her.  

Thank you God for surrounding my mom with family and friends literally weeks before this all started.


Today I went with my parents to the post-op appointment to be their scribe again.  The news was not what we hoped.  My mom was diagnosed with triple negative breast cancer.  I am still wrapping my head around this and learning about it so I am not going to pretend I understand it enough to educate you about it. 

It was a punch in the stomach. Yet we hold on to hope that they are running the tests again and will have a different outcome.  

We will know more tomorrow.

Watching my parents handle this news with grace, tears, humor and love is beautiful, but it sucks to have to see their love be strengthened through a trial like this.

I am slowly absorbing it, just wanting to help in any way I can, including praying more. And more. And more.


It's tomorrow.

It is triple negative breast cancer.

My thoughts are racing. 

I want to read about it, but I don't.  I am already afraid, this will only fuel my fear.  I need to diffuse myself with love right now, for my sanity, and to be able there for my Mom.


God, please show me where you are in this. I need to see who you are and who you aren't. 

God is NOT:

  • cancer
  • negative
  • hopeless
  • fearful
  • worried

God IS:

  • the love pouring around my Mom from family and friends. 
  • the positive thoughts and prayers covering her and our family
  • my mom's selfless thoughts, even in a time like this
  • the kiss between a caring husband and his wife
  • the warmth of a hug between my mom and I
  • laughter between the tears
  • the serenity of the lake view from their deck
  • the comfort my parents received calling my cousin who happens to be a radiologist who is helping give perspective on this diagnosis
  • the gift of a 30 year friendship who is friends with a doctor whose career is focused on treating this specific cancer
  • the gratitude that people spend their lives everyday trying to find a cure for this disease for people they will never know
  • the hands and hearts of the doctors and nurses helping my mom
  • the hope that others have survived this diagnosis
  • the love infused in every breath we take
  • present in every moment of this; to give strength, comfort, peace and hope.

March 2016

Today is my mom's last day of radiation.  These past seven months have been a roller coaster for her and for our family.  After surgery, four rounds of chemo and many weeks of radiation we are blessed to meet this day. It has not come without bumps in the road, and we are unsure if other bumps will present themselves in the future (we hope not!).

What we can do is celebrate today. 

Everyday.

We have this day with our loved ones. Embrace it. Life is a precious gift so often unrecognized until the dark times give us perspective.

Watching my mom go through each step of this process has left me in awe.  Her quiet strength and love shined through the darkness, blessing others as they were there to comfort her. 

Her love of God, my Dad, the four of us kids, our spouses and her 11 grandkids carried her through these months. She inspires me to be a better person and I am so grateful she is my mom.

To say she amazes me is a huge understatement.  Watching her go through each step of this process has left me in awe of the strength of her faith, the courage of her heart and the endurance of her Spirit.  

God is in her quiet strength.

God is in her patience perseverance.

I saw her faith hold her upright when she had those days of feeling like she was in someone else's body.  

My mom is a woman of faith and watching her go through this trial and lean on God is a testimony to the power of prayer, faith and the unfailing love of God.  


August 2016

On this day last year my mom was diagnosed with cancer.  I am grateful she is here today but there was another outcome I know others, including my best friend, experienced with their moms, or loved ones.  

Our faith in God carried us this year, regardless of the circumstance or the outcome.  We are thankful that we were able to meet God in the eye of the storm to give us perspective, comfort, wisdom, strength, peace and hope through the process. 

A verse that carried us through this time was Joshua 1:9,

"Be strong and courageous.  Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged

for God will be with you wherever you go." 

God is with you wherever you go.  I hope you too seek and find God on your walk, or a loved one's walk, with cancer.  May you have hope and receive God's peace.

With hope and peace,

Shawn

In honor of my Mom I am offering the Kindle version of my book, My Journey to Live From the Inside Out, FREE Friday, August 26- Sunday, August 28.  

To get the Kindle version, please click HERE .

To purchase the paperback version please click HERE .