70 days. It's been 70 days of me knowing. 70 days of holding back. Of only letting a few people in. 70 days ago, our lives changed. Forever.
I can tell you everything about that day. Helping my Mom at work. Her hurting. Coming home. Her sleeping. Trying hard to deal with the pain. Struggling to watch her favorite shows. Helping her to bed.
I was quietly watching a movie. One I have tried many times before to watch, and something has always happened. But I thought, I have 3 hours to watch this. I poured me some water, curled up on the couch, and was working on some crochet orders.
Then I heard the dogs going crazy. My Mom was crying uncontrollably. And I know, that the feeling I'd had for months...it had been right. Something major was wrong. We struggled to get my Mom to sit in a chair. Which helped ease the pain. Her face was red. Tears streaming down. Shaking in pain.
In a blur, I got the dogs outside. Unloaded our car, from the Growers' Market that day. Made sure the dogs had their blankets, toys, food, water, and a shirt of each of ours. Got them in the house. Locked the gates. And somehow, got my Mom in the car.
I can tell you about the 3 songs, it took us to get to the ER. About how cautiously I had to drive. Her sounds of pain. I can tell you what time I got her to the ER. What it looked like. How instantly, they took her to the back. I knew, we were in trouble.
Once her vitals were taken, and they had her a little more stable. I went back outside. Our car still parked in front of the ER doors. I waited while they held the traffic for an incoming Medevac. How by some miracle of God, I found a close parking. And ran the entire way, down that hill. I was taken to a back room. Where I'd learn my Mom had been undergoing testing. Still in tears. Still in pain. But she was getting help.
I can tell you what time it was. What the room smelled like. How many nurses there were. And what their names are. I can tell you how many times we saw doctors. How many times they took my Mom, for another test.
There was an endless flow of patients. I could see them. Hear their stories. See how they were being treated. Vitals taken. Then sent back to the Waiting Room. But here we sat. I knew we were in trouble.
After 11PM, I asked for prayers on Facebook. And at 11:44PM, I text some family. I knew there was something wrong. Really wrong. But I had to keep my head straight. And my Mom calm. There were countless MRIs, X-rays, and scans. And every single time, my Mom came back in more pain. Crying uncontrollably. Shaking. So red.
At 11:54PM the doctor came in. Looked at both of us. And followed, as they wheeled us into an ER room. Right before midnight, the words came out. Just as they made my Mom comfortable. The doctor told us, he was 98% sure my Mom had leukemia.
It was a punch in the gut! I knew she'd been sick. For months. And in pain. I suspected that it was cancer. But this, felt like it was out of left field. My Mom was stoic. In those moments, she was so calm. I thought she was in shock.
The doctor explained, we could go home. Or we could stay. They could see what was the cause of the secondary issue they found. Fractures in her vertebrae. And they could ease her pain. It was up to us. He left. And ordered some pain meds.
My Mom, only seemed concerned about going to work. In a few short hours. She felt like, she had to at least finish out the week. I'm thinking, she's going to be lucky, to finish the school year. Life is about to get real tough.
We talked. She realized it was important to stay. See what was causing all these issues with her vertebrae. I'd call her work, in a few hours. There were discussions of procedures. Billing. Insurance. Other doctors. Specialists. The lists went on and on. My Mom drifted in and out of a restless sleep. I think the ONLY reason she was resting, was from the medication.
We had seen a friend of ours. There in the ER. With her Mom. I'd steal a few moments. To go talk to her. Let her know about the back issues. And I wouldn't realize it until now, that's when we started keeping this secret.
Hours later, as night turned into day...my aunties would come. To see my Momma. And I'd steal away some time. To go home. Check on our dogs. Grab a quick shower. Throw a few things in a bag. And head back.
There was an unexplainable bond between my Mom and I. We both knew, what was at our hands. We both knew, what we were up against. And what our future was going to look like. And somewhere in that mess of things, I knew she wasn't ready to tell people.
We'd keep this secret. Family and friends would come to visit. Then the paperwork started coming. Wills, Living Wills, Power of Attorney. There were doctor visits planned. And more people, to talk about the tough stuff. The stuff, that my Dad had pushed...until the very end.
Unlike my Mom, when we learned of my Dad's cancer...it was late in the game. We found out in April 2014, that he had Stage 4 Colon Cancer. There was not going to be a cure. Or remission. We could only pray for time. My Dad, my Mom, and I would have a pact. No matter what, we'd fight for time with him. My Dad would insist on chemo and radiation. Anything, to give him time with us. We'd agree to anything, and everything he wanted. The last 11 months of his life, were incredibly tough. Tiring. Lonely.
But we were fighting for him. With every 12 hour day, at chemo. With weeks in the hospital. With every fall. Every seizure. With operations. Radiation. And countless doctors' visits. We were fighting for time. And it was his choice, to have treatment. We would support every decision he made. And cherished every precious moment, God gave us together. Christmas in the hospital. Ringing in 2015. He's 83rd Birthday. It was all a gift from God. Even if, it happened in the hospital.
With my Mom, it is different. She is nearly 20 years younger, than my Dad. Her health is better, than my Dad's. The cancer, is not as bad. Her pain is through the roof. And I see her have a tougher time with certain things. But she is in better health.
And like I did with my Dad, I'm standing behind every one of her decisions. To keep her secret...until she was ready to tell. To sign certain papers. To get her estate in order. To seek treatments. To fight to live. Find her doctors. Be her voice. Be her strength. Be her protector. I will be her biggest cheerleader. Like I was for my Daddy.
I love my Momma, more than words can even begin to say. I was 31 years old, when I lost my Daddy. And I was 3,3 when my Momma got her diagnosis. There was nearly 18 months between my Dad's passing, and my Mom's cancer diagnosis. And all I could do, was sit and pray. Every once in a while, I allow myself to cry. To be a little angry. To be upset. To be sad. But more importantly, to be real.
It's in his hands now. Our dear Lord, knows what our paths are. Before we are ever born. He made me, to be a strong woman. To bare this cross. I know, I'm never alone. I have my Lord, to turn to. It is, what gets me through my days.
But I also know, this time around...we have family and friends. On October 4th, we were given the leukemia confirmation. We told our "Market Family." And they embraced us. Carried us along our way. It was this group of people, that allowed us to talk. To get it out. To be OK. On November 1st, my Mom finally told my aunties. It was a HUGE relief to her. And a shock to them. A handful of people have known. Not for long. But they've known.
There were a few people, that I told there was a possibility. There were a few friends, that knew without a doubt. And now, with our Fundraising Effort in full swing, a few more people know. But we wanted to be respectful, of my Mom's wishes. She was ready today. For 71 days, we've held this secret. For 71 days, I've prayed for a miracle. And for 71 days, I've wanted others to know...so they could also pray.
I don't know what the future has in store for us. Or what to really expect. I know there will be chemo, radiation, and a possible bone marrow transplant. I walked a similar road, with my Goddaughter, years ago. I know what is coming. I know there will be tough days. Bad days. And a handful, of good days. But through it all, I will be here. Loving my Momma, through the cancer. Because the cancer doesn't define who she is. Or the love I have for her. It only makes our bond, stronger. #PrayForIrene 🐦