Breast Cancer in February of 1996. She had to undergo a Radical Mastectomy. They removed her
right breast and all the lymph nodes under that arm. The surgery wasn't the end of the
treatment. She had to take Chemotherapy also.
She was sick, lost some
hair, lost weight. She was happy that she didn't have to shave her legs anymore. Leave it
to Mom to find the bright side. None of it was easy for her or for us, her family. We
cried alot, we grieved. We yelled to the heavens, why?
Through it all Mom
talked to us. I heard the most wonderful stories of her life, about my brothers growing
up, my sister. She could have wrote a best seller from all the life experiences she
I quit crying after a
few months, around Mom anyway. She wouldn't stand for it, and I couldn't stand to see her
worry about me. She had herself to worry about.
Around 6 months later
Chemo was stopped. The cancer was gone, none could be found in her body. We celebrated, we
laughed, we thanked the lord and blessed the Doctors. She slowly got her strength back.
A months later, she
found a lump in her neck. She knew, we knew and the Doctor confirmed it. A cancer cell had
traveled to the lymph node in her neck.
The Doctor didn't want
to put her through more Chemo so he started Radiation treatments on her neck. Every other
day, I'd take her for the 15 minute drive to the clinic for the rads and stop off at the
grocery store on the way back. These treatments weren't that bad for her, she weathered
them well. The worst thing was the ink drawings they used to label the site and the
sunburn and sore throat she developed.
We enjoyed our side
trips to the store and some shopping. I'd always stop at the local Dairy Queen and get her
some onion rings and a pineapple milkshake. I would go to her house, a 15 minute drive at
7am and not come home till the buses run at 3pm,7 days a week. And we still had the other
Doctors to visit too.
I had to find one to
manage the others, to help keep all the meds straight. After a Doctor put her on Baby
Aspirin while she was taking Coumadin from her heart Doctor and she spent 4 days in the
hospital with internal bleeding because of it, I knew it was too much to keep straight
anymore. The Doctors had first thought she had an ulcer because they spotted a place in
Around 3 months later,
in the fall of 1997, Radiation was stopped, the lump had shrunk away, no more cancer. We
didn't cheer this time. We waited.
Her Cancer Doctor
called Mom one day in February of the new year, 1998, he had gotten the X-rays from when
she was in hospital with the bleeding. He had seen a spot on her Liver and he wanted her
back in to see him immediately.
She immediately started
a heavy Chemo drip, every other day and took Chemo pills on the opposite days. No surgery
this time, inoperable.
Her hair fell out, she
was deathly sick. Weakness set in and the side trips stopped. My sisters in law would come
down when they could get a few days off from work to give me a break. Someone had to be
with her all the time now. Do her cleaning and shopping, help her wash herself..
Someone to make her
eat. She lost weight, we got her a wig so close to her own hair that you couldn't tell the
And she told me over
and over about death and dying. How she wanted the funeral to be arranged, what she wanted
to wear. Even what flowers NOT to send...smile....She hated "Death Lilies", as
she called them. Didn't want them around.
After 2 months, she was
so weak she couldn't support herself anymore. Her own weight which was little was too much
for her to bear. Through all this my 10 year old was dealing well with Grandma's Cancer,
he spent alot of time with her too. Grandma would say "What do you want for your
birthday this year?" He'd always reply, " Just be here Grandma, that's
want." His Birthday was in May on the 9th and he'd turn the big 11 years old.
In May , about 3 days
before my son's birthday, Mom got real bad and the Doctor stopped Chemo, said her body
couldn't take anymore. I needed more help with her now, so the Doc called in Hospice to
help, they'd be here on Monday to fill out the paperwork and start home care.
On Saturday, my son's
birthday, Grandma was in and out. She forgot my son's birthday, didn't know who we were,
who she was. My sister in laws had come down on Friday and we all took care of her
together. We stayed close. My son was just happy he got his birthday wish and so was I.
On May 12, Monday
afternoon, Hospice arrived. Mom was unable to move from the bed now. The lady they sent to
do the paper work was really nice. I had to sign the papers cause Mom had given me Medical
Guardianship over her earlier.
She took one look at
Mom and called for a nurse to come immediately. She said, your Mom's dying.
The Nurse said pretty much the same thing except she added, I don't know why she's
hanging on. Is someone close to her, not here?
My brother Billy hadn't
arrived yet but he was on his way. He had a 3 hour drive ahead of him. Mom was waiting on
After Billy got here,
we all grouped around her bed. Moving away to cry and coming back to just love her. Mom's
minister arrived and all her friends started coming in. They'd touch her hand and tell her
they loved her....and leave crying.
Mom became aware of
everyone finally, knew us, she couldn't talk much. My son was the first to tell her
goodbye. He told her he loved her and that he'd be okay, to tell sissy he loved her too.
We all said goodbye...I told her it would be okay, to give Sis my love and
say hi to daddy.
I'd be fine..
An hour later, Mom took
her last breath as I held her hands and looked her in the eyes and smiled..