On July 31st, my mom turned 51. We decided to meet up as a family for dinner that evening to celebrate her birthday. My dad, brother, sister, Jon, and I were all there and it was so nice to be with family. Halfway through dinner, my mom got a call that she needed to take and walked away for awhile. Shortly after, my dad joined her. While waiting and waiting, a sinking feeling started forming in the pits on our stomachs. It can't be good news, it's taking too long. My parents came back to the table and sat down. I immediately asked what the news was, "What did the doctor say?" My dad hesitated a little which was just enough time for me to briefly believe everything was clear and OK. Only seconds later he said something that meant a huge change for my entire family, especially my mom. "You're mom has cancer. Stage 3 Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma." The rest of what was said turned to a blur as I tried to process what my dad had just told us. I looked at my siblings, at my dad, and at my sweet mom and started weeping in the middle of the restaurant. I hugged my mom and didn't want to let go, I just wanted it to be alright, I didn't want to see her suffer and I wanted all of this to be a sick joke. Our fear had become our reality and our journey at that moment.
The weeks following included many tests for my mom. It was discovered that the cancer had spread throughout all of her Lymph-nodes. Some were in a worse state than hoped for, which bumped her cancer from stage 3 to stage 4. We had hoped that the doctors might give her a choice of starting chemo or trying a "wait and see" method to watch the cancer and its progress over time. The doctor was very firm that the chemo needed to be started immediately. Her heart was tested to see how strong it was to withstand treatment. A bit of joy and comfort came over us to know her heart was strong, she was strong. Throughout these tests before treatment, something came back unexpected. The doctor found an "anomaly" on the base of her brain stem and needed to do further scans to figure out what it was. This news was devastating and meant a possible game-changer for everything. Waiting a week for the news about her brain lasted forever. In the midst of working on our paperwork to move and going through a lot of "life" I felt completely drained emotionally. I didn't want to think about life without my mom. I tried my best to stay away from those thoughts. My dad gave me a call during the week. I knew this call was important because it was around the time we would find out about the "anomaly". I held my breath as my dad told me, "It's nothing. It came back clear." This news brought me to tears, it was such good news, and I was so grateful. My mom's brain was OK and we just needed to focus on fighting this cancer.
During this time I really started experiencing a lot of heavy emotions. I knew the hormones of being pregnant were there to factor in, I knew moving was naturally going to cause stress. Adding this news to everything made me feel so helpless. I've always been very good at dealing with my emotions. I could always talk it out, cry, and express myself in a way that made me feel better and clear minded. During the first few weeks of getting the news about my mom, I found myself dealing with overwhelming emotions. There were many times Jon held me and let me cry and cry as he prayed. I started feeling the load of anxiety and stress and worry about the health of my growing baby. I was struggling with how to cope and how to keep my eyes above the waves. I felt fragile and weak and completely human. Through the remaining weeks God began teaching me a lot. He reminded me of the importance of grief. When something changes in our lives we experience grief. Our lives were changing and I needed to be OK with going through my grief. I prayed for strength and He reminded me how big His grace is and how deep His mercy is. I began to find peace in knowing that no matter what happens, God is good.
I've started thinking back on the ways God has provided through all of this. This pregnancy has brought my mom so much joy. It has brought all of us joy! Jon and I felt very called to move at the beginning of July. It happen to work out that we found a perfect home for us only 15-20 minutes away from our family. Thinking about being able to sit with my mom during her treatments and keep her company at home while I work is so wonderful. Jenny and I weren't supposed to go full-time with Maiedae until next year. Maiedae has found so much favor and grown so well that we were both able to quit our full-time jobs and, as a result, I have some flexibility to work remotely most of the week. My dad is in a great position at his job to be able to take the time he needs to care for her. And the fact that a mammogram caught this cancer (which is unusual), is so amazing. Left untreated and unknown this cancer could have taken her away from us within the year. I am SO thankful for these blessings and His goodness through this journey.
My mom is so full of grace. She has done better than all of us throughout this time. Yesterday she got her port put in, in order to help her receive chemo. Today she starts her first round of chemo treatment. She has been showered with so much love and prayer during this time. I am so thankful to everyone who has gone out of their way to show her how much they care. I love my mama like crazy. She is so special to me and I look forward to this time of helping to care for her and spend time with her. My sister and I are planning to have some pamper nights with her to help her feel as beautiful as she is and cared for. :)
Thank you so much for listening to my heart and for making this an encouraging and uplifting community. Also, a huge thank you to my friends who have been praying hard for my family during this time and have been such a support system for us. Lastly, I am so thankful for Jon. Through all of this he has been such a rock and such a support. He has challenged me, let me cry, held me, and spoken words of truth in my life on a daily basis. I admire him so much and am so blessed to be his wife.
"Keep the earth below my feet. From my sweat, my blood runs weak. Let me learn from where I have been. Keep my eyes to serve, my hands to learn."