My mom is a very special person. I never fully realized how strong my mom was, though, until she experienced this whole breast cancer fight, and now I totally admire her! I'm not sure why, I mean, she's been through so much in her life, a divorce, the death of a spouse, the caring for an invalid significant other and then breast cancer to boot...why didn't I ever realize how strong she was before? I guess just because she was Mom, and moms just keep going, don't they? Hardly anything stops them, so why would any of that stand out to a selfish young lady?
At any rate, I remember making the 3 hour drive quite often to spend time with my mom and learning that her breast cancer required surgery. She often told me about her appointments, and told me she considered a total mastectomy because she just didn't want to deal with the possibility of them not "getting it all", but was told by the doctors that the lump was smaller and the success rate was considered high for a lumpectomy.
During the surgery I lifted her up in prayer more often than I think I ever did before. I wanted her to be told the cancer had been removed, that she would be fine, that she wouldn't have to suffer endless treatments. More than that, I wanted her to be around when I became a mom, to see my kids grow, to offer advice, to see what a good job she did raising me.
After the surgery I sat on her bedside listening to the air pressure raise and lower in the machines hooked up to her legs to keep her circulation flowing. I remember her wishing she could concentrate on healing herself and not have to worry about her significant other's care. Mostly, though, I remember how strong she was. Even though the lump was removed, along with many lymph nodes in her armpit, she was still worrying about others, wanting to make sure others were cared for, had gotten a meal, had slept at night...
I returned home and life went on with frequent car trips to see my mom and watch her progression. She was almost always in good spirits, regained mobility in her arm (I didn't expect it to be affected quite as much as it was) and was out and about in what seemed like no time at all (to me). I was very thankful to those who cared for my mom and her S.O. daily, kept an eye on her from afar, and helped with the snow and whatnot during her recovery. She was a fighter and I believe her strength had a lot to do with it, but I also feel the team of friends and family that came together to support her added to that strength.
Today she is a breast cancer survivor, an advocate for cancer awareness (especially breast cancer). She continues to be very involved in a support group, I Can Cope, that is in her area and often is attending meetings and being a friend to another cancer sufferer or survivor. My mom is an amazing lady!
Please come back tomorrow to read my interview with my mom about her experience in her own words. I hope it gives encouragement that the diagnosis of breast cancer is not a death sentence, but can be something that reveals the inner fighter in a woman!