I am always amazed at how your life can change in a moment’s notice. You wake up thinking everything is fine and by the afternoon, your whole world can come crashing down. The day my mom was diagnosed with cancer was the day our lives changed forever.
My boys were six months old and my parents had been staying with us since the day they were born. We all worked in 4-hour shifts feeding, diapering, and getting them back to sleep. They were the age that you were really starting to see their personalities and my mom was really enjoying them. My mom had been experiencing some spotting and was concerned so she made a doctor’s appointment. That day, my aunt and I took my boys into my office so my co-workers could meet them. Everything was fine, my co-workers were taking turns holding and playing with the twins. Everywhere I turned, the room was filled with smiles. It was such a great feeling.
As we were getting ready to leave, my aunt got a call on her cell phone. As I was talking and saying goodbye to my co-workers I quickly glanced over at my aunt. Her face grew pale and I could hear her say with tears in her voice, “She does.” At that moment, I knew something was wrong. As I stood there with a car seat in each hand, I yelled to her, “What is it? What is wrong?” I honestly don’t even know what she said exactly, other than the word, “cancer.” I put both car seats down on the floor and felt a rush of heat and tears swell up. My only thought was to run out the door. I quickly explained to my co-workers what little I knew.. As I was rushing to leave, I could hear them tell me, “Everything will be ok, you’ll see.”
As we drove home, all I can remember is feeling completely overwhelmed. How can this be happening? Why is this happening? I couldn’t get home fast enough, so I could be there when my parents got home.
Up until last year (when I found out about my own cancer diagnosis), I couldn’t have imagined what my mom was feeling when she heard that she had cancer. I wasn’t sure what to say or do. When she walked in the door, she looked so scared and I could feel my heart slowly sinking. I didn’t want her to see me upset, so I tried to keep it positive. At this point in her diagnosis, she was told it was Stage 1 Uterine cancer. Her doctor told her she would need a hysterectomy and she would be fine after that. I’m not so sure she believed it. I assured her, as my dad and my aunt did as well, you will be fine. She had tears in her eyes and said, “I hope so.”
Then she came over to me, and said, “Joann, I can’t help you anymore.” She hugged me so tightly, and I told her it was fine. I told her not to worry, I would be fine. My aunt assured her that she would help me as well. I told her all I want it is for you to take care of yourself and get back here to enjoy your grandchildren. I only wish that was the case. She never made it back to my house to pick up where she left off.
It is difficult for me to write about this time in our lives. When I think back on that day, I feel an overwhelming amount of sadness. What should have been one of the happiest times of my life enjoying my babies, was pushed aside the day my mom was diagnosed with cancer. In a moment’s notice, everything changed.