Friday, November 13, 2020

Momma

Amidst an already challenging 2020, my sweet Momma was diagnosed with Lung Cancer on August 13 and underwent a lobectomy (removal of upper left lobe of lung) on August 26.  Today, she is 11 weeks post surgery and is doing well.  So incredibly well!  She has much more healing to do but the worst is over and I'm so happy to share that she is cancer free.  


Cancer is a horrible diagnosis, a horrible disease, an infestation of cells that attack the healthy and strong cells, like a bully picks on the smallest, weakest child in the schoolyard.  It is not prejudice or racist or discriminating, it kills the young and the old.  It attacks and kills healthy individuals and the sick and timid.  And when it decided to pick on my Momma, it didn't stand a chance!

My Momma is the healthiest 72 year old.  She has never taken any medicine or had a need to.  She has always eaten well.  As a nurse, she knows to listen to her body and chooses to address those things holistically, when possible.  She's never smoked a day in her life.  She makes exercise a daily priority.  The on-going joke between us is that she can run circles around me - always has been able to.     

She is specifically mindful about preventative care and so, insists on a good Doctor and follows up on all the tests and health related checks that are necessary for her age.  For several years, there have been "spots" discovered on her pancreas, and then her lungs.  So, with complete discipline, she has been having them checked yearly and without fail, those spots were not growing or changing whatsoever.  

On a recent check up on her lung nodules, she was informed that the mass had grown since last check.  Nothing significant, but growth nonetheless.  Her Doctor gave her the option to do nothing and wait six months for a follow up or to move forward and do a lung biopsy.  It was up to her and as the Doctor assured her, nothing to worry about.  

The wellness of how she lives her life and the stubborn, unapologetic commitment to not let negative surround or consume her, she made the wise decision to move forward with the lung biopsy.  Within less than a week, the results were in and my Mom had been diagnosed with Adenocarcinoma.  It was caught early and small.  But, it was nonetheless, Cancer.  

I had spoken to Momma that particular day she got the call and received the news.  We spoke and she kept to herself the overwhelming news she had just received.  Instead, she nonchalantly brought up in the conversation, "What's Ronnie doing today?"  And after we got off the phone, she texted Ronnie to call her.  She shared with him that she had gotten her lung biopsy results.  She told him before she told me because she wanted to make sure that I was not by myself when she shared the news.  What a selfless act.  

Momma's lung cancer diagnosis and consequent lobectomy was overseen at Cleveland Clinic in Cleveland, OH.  The same hospital who had turned my Dad's Cardiomyopathy diagnosis, 20 years prior, from a death sentence to a manageable chronic heart condition.  He is to this day, one of Cleveland Clinic Heart Hospital's success stories.  

The day before her surgery, Ronnie and I and my sister, gathered with Mom and Dad in Cleveland.  We ate dinner together and laughed and told stories and we cried.  On August 26, she underwent a lobectomy and the surgery was a success.  All of the cancer had been identified and removed.  Recovery in the hospital was rough but Daddy was there every day in the hospital with her.  Ronnie, Maria and I were able to wave to her from outside after she was able to get out of bed.  


 The day after my Momma's surgery, I text her to tell her how proud I was of her.  She had not known three weeks ago that she had lung cancer, and already she had kicked its ass.  She's tough as nails, with a stubborn will and a healthy body and a strong faith. Not to mention, the sweetest soul you will ever have the privilege of knowing and understanding and learning from.  Her presence in all of our lives - her family - is nothing short of inspiring and precious to us all.  

*As I write this, I am mindfully aware that what we went through and experienced this year in our family in regards to my Mom's lung cancer, is miniscule compared to the families who have struggled with Covid and families who have lost loved ones due to Covid.  Its unimaginable the grief and pain and isolation I know so many have experienced this year.  My heart is heavy for them.  And as my Momma left the hospital 5 days after her surgery, the cancer removed, we all said a silent prayer for all the individuals left in the hospital without a good prognosis, or still undergoing radiation and chemotherapy.  Our hearts and prayers are still with them.