As cliche as it sounds, it’s something drastically life changing that you never think will impact you, but then stops you in your tracks.
Especially as a “kid” and having the unrealistic hope that your parents will live forever. How could anything bad happen?
I was stopped dead in my tracks earlier this year in mid March. My mom had recently retired from over 30 years in the medical field, and had been pursuing her passion as a yoga and reiki instructor.
My mom has always been very precise and articulate, in person and via text message, so it was very out of character when text messages from her began containing grammar errors, incorrect words, and jumbled sentences.
At first these were minor things, and I thought perhaps it was just a typo, or she was using talk to text and just sending her message with mistakes on purpose. But after a few days, my other siblings began to raise concern as well.
In person she seemed mostly fine, but there were some occasions where her speech patterns were different, or her recollection of events seemed skewed, which again, was very abnormal for her.
We found out that she had been seeing a doctor already for some of her symptoms, which she had actually kept from us for some time, but then we found out her doctor also wanted her to get an MRI just to see if anything was going on.
I think at that point my mom was in denial that something was wrong, and was just relating it to stress, or lack of sleep. Luckily, with some persuasion from my siblings and some of her close friends, she got an MRI.
The results are picture below:
A pretty large and aggressive tumor on her front left temporal lobe.
She was shocked, and said she wasn’t expecting to see that.
None of us were.
Long story short, she went on steroids and seizure prevention medication for 2 weeks, and had surgery to have the tumor removed.
The surgeon was optimistic he could get most if not all of the tumor out, but he was also fairly positive it was malignant, and would come back later in her life.
She had her surgery around my birthday in the beginning of April, and she did great.
Her cognitive abilities improved, and she began an impressively speedy recovery.
For the months of May, June, and part of July she underwent daily chemo and radiation therapy.
She hated it because it made her very tired, and she had virtually no appetite during it so she lost weight she didn’t really have to lose.
We repeatedly reassured her it was meant to hopefully get any remnants of the tumor the surgeon didn’t get (which there were some parts that were too close to blood vessels so he couldn’t remove those during surgery) and hopefully extend her life before it potentially comes back.
Fast forward to early July, she had another MRI scan to see how the treatment went.
Her scans looked great, and there was no sign of the tumor other than the area of the surgery with some small amounts of fluid leftover.
She still has some face numbness, and says her head feels funny sometimes because of the metal plate she has on that side.
The doctors want her to come back every 3 months for scans, and even recommended chemo and radiation at least once a month.
My mom, however, made it clear to us and the doctors that no matter what the scans showed this final scan, she was going to be done with treatment.
So at this point the doctors told her to try and gain some weight back, but otherwise, just live her life.
She has no restrictions, and lately she has been enjoying time up at her cabin in Wyoming with her 2 dogs.
Today is her 61st birthday, and with everything she has been through this year, I just wanted to recognize her strength and resilience as she went through everything she did with courage and grace.
It’s odd when the roles switch from parents nurturing kids, to kids nurturing parents, but if anything, the last few months have taught me that sometimes the most valuable thing you can give someone is your time.
When the unpredictable happens, that measure of time and what you do with it can be dramatically impacted, and often times will highlight things you may have taken for granted.
I have been spending time with mom as much as I can now, obviously mixed in with my time at the gym and my own home life.
Mostly she likes me to come over and shave her head every few weeks. Originally we were just using clippers, but the side of the chemo is considerably shorter than the other side, even when we use the clippers.
This week I offered to use a razor to shave her head, and she agreed to let me. She ended up LOVING it, and afterward couldn’t stop rubbing her head, saying how good she felt, and asking me why we waited so long to use a razor. I told her welcome to my life. 😎
It was funny and oddly symbolic because as a kid when I was in 4th grade I wanted my first buzz cut. My mom shaved my head on the back patio at her house for that first time, and now I cut her hair every few weeks in the same spot on her back patio.
It has become the highlight of my week.
Happy Birthday, Mom!
I love you!